Hutchinson to skipper Saints as rugby returns to Franklin's Gardens

Rory Hutchinson will skipper Saints in the sevens series (picture: Kirsty Edmonds)
Rory Hutchinson will skipper Saints in the sevens series (picture: Kirsty Edmonds)

Rory Hutchinson will lead Saints in this weekend's Premiership Rugby 7s series at Franklin's Gardens.

All 12 Gallagher Premiership clubs will descend on Northampton for the festival of rugby.

And Saints have opted for a youthful approach, with centre Hutchinson joined in the squad by the likes of Ollie Sleightholme, Tom Emery, Fraser Strachan and Devante Onojaife.

Those players all featured in last year's tournament as Saints beat Leicester to bag the bowl prize.

But Saints will be hoping to go one better this year and lift the cup on Saturday, with local rivals Wasps, who have won the last two editions of the tournament, and Gloucester lying in wait in Friday’s pool stages.

“This is a superb opportunity for the club to start the season off strongly and for all of these young players involved to put their hands up to the first-team coaches,” said Saints Academy head coach Mark Hopley.

“The 7s cup is the first piece of silverware on offer for all 12 Premiership clubs this season and of course everyone wants to win it.

“We’re focused now on our preparations for the next couple of days and on ensuring we play really entertaining rugby for what we’re sure will be a raucous home crowd here at Franklin’s Gardens.”

Saints supporters will also get their first look at a number of the club’s brightest talents, with Under-18s squad members Tyler Mills (Northampton School for Boys), Morgan Dayes (Samuel Whitbread), Ollie Newman (Cambridge) and Josh Gillespie (Millfield) getting their first run-outs for Northampton’s senior team.

And Hutchinson is relishing the prospect of leading the eager group into the tournament.

He said: “It’s a great privilege for us to be hosting the 7s at home again this year.

“Obviously we’ve had a fresh start as a squad this pre-season, with new coaching and new players coming in, but now we’re really looking forward to playing in the 7s.

“Everyone wants to pull on the black, green and gold jersey as much as possible – that’s why we play the sport – and we’ve got a really good bunch of players involved who want to perform.”

Saints will play two fixtures on Friday night, taking on Gloucester at 6.38pm and Wasps at 9.38pm.

Saints squad

1 Paddy Ryan

2 Connor Tupai

3 Fraser Strachan

4 Josh Gillespie

5 Morgan Dayes

6 Ollie Newman

7 Joe Wallace

8 Devante Onojaife

9 Tom Emery

10 Tyler Mills

11 Ollie Sleightholme

12 Rory Hutchinson (c)