Tuitavake makes first start as Saints make nine changes for Montpellier trip

FIRST START - Nafi Tuitavake
FIRST START - Nafi Tuitavake

Nafi Tuitavake will start for Saints for the first time as a much-changed side faces Montpellier on Friday night. (7.45pm GMT).

The Tongan centre arrived at Franklin’s Gardens during the summer and has made just two appearances so far, coming off the bench against Castres and Sale Sharks.

But Tuitavake gets his chance in the final Champions Cup Pool 4 match as Saints boss Jim Mallinder opts to make nine changes to the team that beat Castres 28-21 last Saturday.

Ahsee Tuala is in for Ben Foden at full-back and both half-backs have been changed, with Lee Dickson, who will captain the team, and JJ Hanrahan in for Nic Groom and Stephen Myler respectively.

In the pack, Ethan Waller, Charlie Clare, Michael Paterson, James Craig and Ben Nutley come in for Alex Waller, Mike Haywood, Courtney Lawes, Christian Day and Tom Wood.

Saints are currently bottom of Pool 4 and have lost both of their away games, conceding 101 points in the process.

Montpellier still have a chance of progressing to the quarter-finals and have named a strong team that includes giant Fijian wing Nemani Nadolo.

Montpellier: Michel; Nagusa, Tomane, Dumoulin, Nadolo; Catrakilis, White; Nariashvili, Geli, Jannie Du Plessis; Willemse, Mikautadze; Ouedraogo (c), Galletier, Qera. Replacements: Mamukashvili, Watremez, Guillamon, Jacques Du Plessis, Battut, O’Leary, Immelman, Martin.

Saints: Tuala; Estelles, Tuitavake, Mallinder, North; Hanrahan, Dickson (c); E Waller, Clare, Hill; Paterson, Craig; Gibson, Nutley, Harrison. Replacements: Fish, A Waller, Brookes, Ratuniyarawa, Ludlam, Kessell, Wilson, K Pisi.