Saints set to shake things up for London Irish clash

Piers Francis has started the past two matches at fly-half (picture: Kirsty Edmonds)
Piers Francis has started the past two matches at fly-half (picture: Kirsty Edmonds)

Saints could opt to shake up their side for Saturday's game against London Irish, with technical coaching consultant Alan Gaffney seeking more control from his men.

The black, green and gold were beaten 32-9 at Bath last Friday, having produced a below-par performance after a dominant opening 25 minutes.

They will again be missing Six Nations stars such as Dylan Hartley, Courtney Lawes and George North this weekend, with Alex Waller (arm) still set to be sidelined.

But Gaffney and his fellow coaches have plenty of options at their disposal for the Franklin's Gardens encounter against the team currently propping up the Aviva Premiership.

And the Australian said: "We have got a lot of players to pick from and it does make it tough, but obviously it's going to be performances out on the pitch that determine what happens.

"Last Friday night, some of the players didn't do themselves total justice and whatever's selected this week will reflect that.

"It's a week to week proposition, we've got to see what happens at training, how we handle things and we hope to go in with a very strong side against Irish on Saturday."

Piers Francis has started the past two matches at fly-half, but the likes of Stephen Myler and James Grayson, who is back from England Under-20s duty, are also vying for a place at 10 this weekend.

"We've got that depth at the present time, but we've got to get people who can control the game, and that's what we lacked last Friday," Gaffney said.

"We didn't control that game at any one point in time and we've got too many forwards coming in thinking they are ball players and backs not taking total control where they should be.

"We just fell away.

"We've got to dominate, we've got to try to understand how we're trying to play the game and what we're trying to do.

"Until we get that person who is going to dominate and control the game at 10... that's the person we're looking for at the moment."