Francis sets sights on more Saints starts

Piers Francis made his Saints debut last Saturday (pictures: Sharon Lucey)
Piers Francis made his Saints debut last Saturday (pictures: Sharon Lucey)

Piers Francis admits the start of his Saints career was ‘massively frustrating’ due to the injury he picked up during pre-season.

And the summer signing was delighted to finally make his competitive debut for his new club in last Saturday’s game against Gloucester at Kingsholm.

The result didn’t go Saints’ way as they were beaten 29-24, but there were glimpses of the class Francis can offer.

He started at inside centre as Luther Burrell switched to 13 to cover for the injured Rob Horne.

And Francis, who suffered a fractured jaw in a pre-season win against Glasgow Warriors at Stirling in August, was happy to finally get his chance for Saints.

“It was great to be out there,” said the 27-year-old, who has moved to Northampton from Super Rugby side Auckland Blues.

Piers Francis started at inside centre at Kingsholm

Piers Francis started at inside centre at Kingsholm

“It’s been a massively frustrating start for me, coming over, breaking my jaw and having seven weeks on the sidelines.

“It was great personally to get out there in a starting role and blow away a few of those cobwebs.

“I just hope I can get a few more matches under my belt.”

Francis will hope to feature again this weekend as Saints take on Saracens in the Champions Cup opener at Franklin’s Gardens on Sunday night.

Jim Mallinder’s men were close to going into that match on the back of five successive wins, but it wasn’t to be.

And Francis said: “We thought we gave ourselves enough chances in the 80 minutes to get a win at Gloucester.

“We knew it was a tough place to go because their crowd are pretty vocal.

“There was some reasonably basic stuff we didn’t polish up well enough and that let Gloucester in.

“They’re a quality side and they’re going to take advantage of it, especially at home and after their previous result (the 57-10 defeat at Sale).

“We knew they were hurting and the reaction was going to be there - unfortunately we weren’t good enough.

“We were disappointed and now we need to move on to this week.”

Despite last weekend’s defeat, Saints enter their European endeavours with four wins from six matches in the Premiership so far.

And Francis said: “A big focus for us was to be five and one, unfortunately we’re four and two, but it could have been a worse start to the season.

“We wanted to really get some momentum going into some really hard European games.

“But our focus changes now over the next couple of games - and they’re big games.

“We’ll address what happened at Gloucester and go into this weekend’s game in good shape.”