North returns to Saints team for Gloucester trip

George North has been recalled to the Saints team for the New Year's Day clash at Gloucester
George North has been recalled to the Saints team for the New Year's Day clash at Gloucester

George North will start for Saints at Gloucester on Sunday (kick-off 3pm).

The Wales wing had been stood down from action after sustaining a head injury in the defeat at Leicester Tigers on December 3.

But after missing the double-header against Leinster and last Friday’s win against Sale Sharks, the Wales wing returns in the No.11 shirt.

Juan Pablo Estelles, who made his first Saints start against Sale, drops to the bench.

Also among the replacements is Harry Mallinder, who makes a welcome return from the ankle injury he suffered against Gloucester on October 28.

Stephen Myler starts at fly-half and will reach a huge milestone this weekend as he becomes only the 16th player in Saints history to make 300 appearances for the club.

As for Gloucester, they have made eight changes to the team that lost 28-24 to Harlequins at Twickenham on Tuesday.

With the Cherry and Whites having a far shorter turnaround than Saints, they have opted to make three alterations to their backs and five to their pack.

David Halaifonua comes in for Charlie Sharples on the right wing, Andrew Symons will make his full debut in the midfield in place of Matt Scott and Willi Heinz takes over from Greig Laidlaw as scrum-half and captain.

In the pack, Salesi Ma’afu returns in the front row against his former club with Josh Hohneck moving from tighthead to loosehead.

Meanwhile, Jeremy Thrush gets his first Aviva Premiership start of the season in the second row.

Finally, it’s an all new back row as Lewis Ludlow, Matt Kvesic and Ben Morgan come in for Ross Moriarty, Jacob Rowan and Gareth Evans respectively.

Gloucester: Hook; Halaifonua, Symons, Twelvetrees, May; Burns, Heinz (c); Hohneck, Hibbard, Ma’afu; Savage, Thrush; Ludlow, Kvesic, Morgan. Replacements: Matu’u, McAllister, Afoa, Galarza, Moriarty, Laidlaw, Scott, Purdy.

Saints: Foden; K Pisi, Burrell, Hanrahan, North; Myler, Groom; A Waller, Haywood, Brookes; Lawes, Day; Wood (c), Harrison, Picamoles. Replacements: Clare, E Waller, Hill, Ratuniyarawa, Gibson, Kessell, Mallinder, Estelles.