All Blacks ace available for Saints selection as Dowson discusses return of World Cup stars

Owen Franks is available for Saints' clash with Bath
Owen Franks is available for Saints' clash with Bath

Owen Franks is now available for selection at Saints.

And more good news comes in the form of Matt Proctor, who is also not too far away from making his debut for the club.

Both players arrived from New Zealand last week, having been on standby for the All Blacks' World Cup campaign.

Centre Proctor is stepping up his recovery from a pectoral injury, but prop Franks is fit and ready to play if required.

"They're both involved in training," confirmed Saints forwards coach Phil Dowson.

"Owen Franks is in full training and he's flying around.

"Matt Proctor is coming back from injury so he's doing a return-to-play protocol but he's a long way down that line. He's tackling, getting off the deck and clearing out so I don't think he'll be far away from playing."

Saints go to Bath in the Gallagher Premiership on Saturday, while the Wanderers play at Oxford University on Friday night.

So will Franks get some game time in either of those encounters?

"There's a Wanderers game on Friday - I'm not sure the Oxford students would appreciate that," Dowson said.

"He is available for selection and we'll include him as and when.

"We have the luxury at the moment that a lot of the guys are playing well so we don't need to rush people in.

"When we feel Owen is settled in, established, knows the calls, knows his team-mates and knows how we want to play, he can get in the game and put his best foot forward."

Saints will also soon welcome back their World Cup stars, with Courtney Lawes, Lewis Ludlam, Piers Francis, Dan Biggar and Cobus Reinach having all featured in the tournament.

"They get some time off to rest and recuperate, but it's case by case," Dowson said.

"Piers Francis hasn't played as much as he'd have liked, but Courtney has played lots so Chris (Boyd) will treat those guys on their merits.

"He will make sure they're fully rested and ready mentally as well as physically."

James Fish was forced to miss last Friday's win against Harlequins due to a head injury.

But the hooker is fit to face Bath this weekend.

"He's good, he's passed all his tests so he's fully available for selection," Dowson said.

"It's good to have him back in the mix."