Mallinder keeps changes to a minimum ahead of Castres clash

Harry Mallinder starts for Saints against Castres on Saturday
Harry Mallinder starts for Saints against Castres on Saturday

Saints have picked a strong side for Saturday’s Champions Cup clash with Castres at Franklin’s Gardens (1pm).

With his team bottom of Pool 4, having won just one of their four games, Jim Mallinder could have opted to make wholesale changes.

Instead, he is keen to maintain the momentum garnered from three successive Aviva Premiership wins.

The director of rugby has made three alterations to the team that beat Bristol 32-26 at the Gardens last weekend.

Louis Picamoles is rested, meaning Jamie Gibson comes into the back row at openside with Teimana Harrison shifting to eight.

Jamie Elliott is out with a shoulder injury so JP Estelles, who replaced him after just 12 minutes last weekend, starts.

And Harry Mallinder is rewarded for a couple of good cameos from the bench as he comes in at inside centre in place of JJ Hanrahan, who is benched.

Ahsee Tuala returns from the hamstring injury he sustained against Leinster in Dublin last month to take his place among the replacements.

Saints: Foden; Estelles, Burrell, Mallinder, North; Myler, Groom; A Waller, Haywood, Brookes; Lawes, Day; Wood, Gibson, Harrison.

Replacements: Clare, E Waller, Hill, Craig, Nutley, Dickson, Hanrahan, Tuala.

Castres: Palis; Agulla; Taumopeau, Ebersohn, Smith; Dumora, Kockott (c); Lazar, Jenneker, Tussac; Jacquet, Moreaux; Caballero, Bias, Vaipulu.

Replacements: Mach, Tichit, Capo-Ortega, Mafi, Dupont, Urdapilleta, Combezou, Kotze.