Summer signing Francis to make Saints debut at Gloucester

Piers Francis will make his Saints debut at Kingsholm (picture: Kirsty Edmonds)
Piers Francis will make his Saints debut at Kingsholm (picture: Kirsty Edmonds)

Piers Francis will make his Saints debut in Saturday's Aviva Premiership game at Gloucester (kick-off 3pm).

Francis, who arrived at Northampton from Super Rugby side the Blues during the close-season, lines up at inside centre.

Luther Burrell switches from 12 to 13 to cover for Rob Horne, who is out with a shoulder injury.

Cobus Reinach gets his first Saints start, with the summer signing replacing Nic Groom at scrum-half.

Groom, who was man of the match in the 30-22 victory against Harlequins last weekend, has an ankle injury.

Dylan Hartley returns from a hand problem to skipper the side from hooker.

Courtney Lawes, captain for the past three matches, gets a bit of a breather as he is named among the replacements.

Sam Dickinson comes in at No.8, with Teimana Harrison moving to seven and Jamie Gibson to six.

Fit-again Stephen Myler, who came off the bench to make his return from a knee injury last weekend, is again among the replacements, with Harry Mallinder remaining at 10.

Gloucester have opted to hand a first start to former Leicester Tigers fly-half Owen Williams as the Cherry and Whites make four changes to the team that lost 57-10 at Sale last Friday.

The other three changes are up front where John Afoa, Tom Savage and Jacob Rowan return to the starting line-up.

They replace former Saints prop Gareth Denman, Jeremy Thrush and Freddie Clarke respectively.

Gloucester: Woodward; Purdy, Trinder, Twelvetrees, Halaifonua; Williams, Heinz (c); Rapava Ruskin, Hibbard, Afoa; Savage, Slater; Ludlow, Rowan, Ackermann.

Replacements: Matu'u, Hohneck, Denman, Thrush, Clarke, Vellacott, Burns, Hudson.

Saints: Tuala; North, Burrell, Francis, Collins; Mallinder, Reinach; Waller, Hartley (c), Brookes; Paterson, Ribbans; Gibson, Harrison, Dickinson.

Replacements: Haywood, Ma'afu, Ford-Robinson, Ratuniyarawa, Lawes, Mitchell, Myler, Foden.