George Furbank will lead Northampton Saints to Mattioli Woods Welford Road this weekend when the men in black, green and gold take on East Midlands rivals Leicester Tigers.
Saints have won four of their last seven Derby visits to Leicester in all competitions but have found life on the road in the Gallagher Premiership difficult this season with just one league victory so far.
Meanwhile, the Tigers have lost just one of their last seventeen home games in the competition, but with the sides locked in sixth (Northampton) and seventh (Leicester) on 29 points, Saturday’s clash (kick-off: 2 p.m., live on BT Sport) could play a central role in the race for the play-offs.
Following injuries, suspensions and international call-ups, director of rugby Phil Dowson is making ten changes to the Saints squad which started last weekend against Stade Rochelais – with Furbank preferred to fly-half and charged with captaincy duties ahead of the blockbuster clash. .
Tom James will start alongside him at scrum-half, making his 50th appearance for Northampton, while Matt Proctor returns to the visitors’ midfield to join Scottish center Rory Hutchinson.
Two other changes come in the back three; James Ramm is selected at full-back, with Ollie Sleightholme earning his first league start since November, and Courtnall Skosan continuing on the other wing.
Juarno Augustus returns from a hamstring injury to make his first appearance of 2023 for Northampton, and the South African No.8 lines up alongside Angus Scott-Young and Aaron Hinkley in the back row.
Alex Moon, statistically the best tackler in the Gallagher Premiership so far this season with a 92 per cent completion rate and 142 to his name, is selected in the engine room along with England international Alex Coles.
Alex Waller starts as a loose prop to make his 26th appearance against Leicester – equaling the record jointly held by Alf Chalmers (1898-1911) and Tom Harris (1924-1937) for most East Midlands Derbies for Saints. He packs his bags with Paul Hill and hooker Mike Haywood in the front row.
Meanwhile, among the substitutes, Northampton are opting for a 6-2 split, with Brandon Nansen, Karl Wilkins and Sam Graham all hoping to bring some physicality to the bench, and Tom Litchfield is preparing for his first league appearance since October. if he gets in on the action.
LEICESTER TIGERS v NORTHAMPTON SAINTS
Gallagher Premiership Rugby Round 16
Saturday, January 28, 2023
Mattioli Wood Welford Road
Kick off: 2 p.m.
15 James Copper
14 Courtnal Skosan
13 Matt Overseer
12 Rory Hutchinson
11 Ollie Sleightholme
10 George Furbank (c)
9 Tom James – Appearance of the 50th saint
1 Alex Waller
2 Mike Haywood
3 Paul Hill
4 Alex Moon
5 Alex Cole
6Angus Scott Young
July 8 August
16 Robbie Smith
17 Ethan Waller
18 Alfie Petch
20 Karl Wilkins
21 Sam Graham
22 Callum Braley
23 Tom Litchfield
Not taken into account for the selection:
Tom Collins, Fraser Dingwall, James Fish, Emmanuel Iyogun, Courtney Lawes, Joel Matavesi, Sam Matavesi and Lukhan Salakaia-Loto.
Tommy Freeman, Lewis Ludlam, Alex Mitchell, David Ribbans and Fin Smith (all in England).
THE TIGERS TEAM TO PLAY THE SAINTS:
15 Freddie Burns, 14 Anthony Watson, 13 Matt Scott, 12 Guy Porter, 11 Harry Potter, 10 Handré Pollard, 9 Sam Edwards; 1 James Whitcombe, 2 Julián Montoya, 3 Will Hurd, 4 Harry Wells, 5 Eli Snyman, 6 Hanro Liebenberg (c), 7 Tommy Refell, 8 Jasper Wiese
Replacements: 16 Charlie Clare, 17 Tom West, 18 Dan Richardson, 19 George Martin, 20 Olly Cracknell, 21 Tom Whiteley, 22 Jimmy Gopperth, 23 Harry Simmons
Arbitrator: wayne barnes
Assistant referees: Jack Makepeace and Wayne Falla
Number 4: Andre Jackson
TMO: Rowan Kitt
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