Saints fly-half Grayson has everything he needs to succeed, says Francis

James Grayson will start for Saints against Newcastle (picture: Kirsty Edmonds)
James Grayson will start for Saints against Newcastle (picture: Kirsty Edmonds)
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Piers Francis has hailed the 'huge potential' of James Grayson as the 19-year-old prepares to make his second start for Saints.

Grayson was in from the off for the first time last Saturday, steering the ship in the 18-15 defeat at Sale Sharks.

And he has done enough to keep his place for Friday's crucial clash with Newcastle Falcons at Franklin's Gardens.

That means there is no room in the squad for experienced ace Stephen Myler, while Francis will have to make do with a place on the bench.

Francis returned from England duty earlier in the week and he has been speaking about the talent Grayson possesses.

"James is a great young player," said the summer signing from Super Rugby side the Blues.

"He's got huge potential and he did really well last week for the boys and for the jersey.

"He really staked his claim.

"He's a great young lad and he obviously comes from a pretty strong heritage.

"He's got everything he needs and it's exciting working with him."

For Francis, life at Saints hasn't started in the easiest fashion as he has been hit by injury on a couple of occasions.

A fractured jaw sustained against Glasgow during pre-season ruled him out until early October and he then suffered a knock in the game against Wasps later that month.

He returned to play at Worcester in November before coming off the bench for England against Samoa last weekend.

And Francis is now desperate to get a run of games for his club, who he is yet to taste victory with in a competitive encounter.

"It's great to be back at the club after a bit of time with England, which was massively exciting," the Gravesend-born back said.

"I'm hugely excited to be back at Franklin's Gardens and I'm looking forward to tonight's game.

"It would be great to put a string of performances together for myself - that's what any rugby player wants.

"Game time helps you learn and get better and I'm looking to contribute to the team if I can."

And Francis fully believes Saints can turn the tide after suffering four successive Aviva Premiership defeats, winning just once in eight matches in all competitions.

"Clubs go through these kind of spells and we're a good enough club with good enough players to get us out of this situation we're in," he said.

"Tonight comes round soon enough for us to right the wrongs of the past few weeks and we're pushing each other at training.

"We're excited to get out there, we've got to put in a big performance and hopefully league points will come from that.

"We want to start racking up the wins."

And Francis knows just how important tonight's game against Newcastle is.

"We're focused on what we want to do performance wise, but from a bigger picture perspective and an outside perspective, it's a huge fixture," he said.

"Newcastle are coming here, to our home on a Friday night and we've struggled with results of late, so it's a huge game.

"I can see why this has been built up for us to really try to get over the line and get our season back on track."