Saints switch North to centre for derby date at Leicester Tigers

SWITCH - George North moves from the wing to the centre as Saints travel to Leicester
SWITCH - George North moves from the wing to the centre as Saints travel to Leicester

George North starts at centre in Saints’ derby showdown at Leicester Tigers on Saturday (kick-off 3.15pm).

The Wales wing moves into the 13 shirt with Samoan star George Pisi dropping out the of the matchday squad.

Jamie Elliott comes in on the wing, while the other Saints change sees club captain Lee Dickson replace Kahn Fotuali’i at scrum-half.

Fotuali’i pulled his hamstring in last Friday’s win against Exeter Chiefs, meaning summer signing Tom Kessell gets a chance as he looks to make his first Northampton appearance from the bench.

Saints have stuck with the same forward pack, so Dylan Hartley continues to be kept out of the side by in-form hooker Mike Haywood.

Hartley is joined on the replacements list by England flanker Tom Wood, who is in line to make his first appearance since late November after recovering from a shoulder problem.

Meanwhile, Leicester have made wholesale changes to the team that suffered a 26-6 defeat at Saracens last weekend.

The likes of Tom Youngs, Dan Cole and Owen Williams are back in the starting 15 as Tigers bid to bounce back quickly.

Leicester Tigers: Veainu; Betham, Tait, Smith, Thompstone; Williams, B Youngs; Ayerza, T Youngs (c), Cole; De Chaves, Kitchener; Fitzgerald, O’Connor, McCaffrey.

Replacements: Thacker, Mulipola, Balmain, Pearce, Croft, Harrison, Burns, Goneva.

Saints: Foden; Elliott, North, Burrell, Collins; Hanrahan, Dickson; A Waller, Haywood, Hill; Lawes, Matfield; Gibson, Harrison, Dickinson.

Replacements: Hartley, E Waller, Denman, Day, Wood, Kessell, Myler, Mallinder.