Saints suffer Francis injury blow as Lawes makes Gardens return

INJURY SETBACK - Piers Francis
INJURY SETBACK - Piers Francis

Skipper Dylan Hartley and Courtney Lawes are both in line for their first Franklin’s Gardens action of pre-season on Friday night when Saints take on Ulster.

But there is also bad news for Saints, who have confirmed new signing Piers Francis will miss the game with a jaw injury sustained in last weekend’s win over Glasgow in Stirling.

It means the fly-half is almost certain to be ruled out of start of the the Aviva Premiership campaign as well, which kicks off against Saracens next weekend.

For their final run out before that Twickenham opener on September 2, Saints have named a strong team to take on the Irish side.

Having made his first appearance of pre-season in last weekend’s win over Glasgow, Hartley will lead the team out, while Lawes is in line for some game time from the bench, fresh from his British & Irish Lions summer.

There is still no place for fly-half Stephen Myler, but the club says he is ‘progressing well and is expected to be in action in the next few weeks’.

Harry Mallinder starts at 10 against Ulster.

Kick-off at the Gardens on Friday is 7.30pm.

Saints team to play Ulster: Ahsee Tuala; Ben Foden, Luther Burrell, Rory Hutchinson, Tom Collins; Harry Mallinder, Nic Groom; Alex Waller, Dylan Hartley, Kieran Brookes, David Ribbans, Christian Day, Teimana Harrison, Lewis Ludlam, Mitch Eadie

Replacements: Forwards: Campese Ma’afu, Mikey Haywood, Paul Hill, Courtney Lawes, James Craig, Jamie Gibson, Sam Dickinson, Ben Nutley.

Backs: Alex Mitchell, James Grayson, Ken Pisi, Tom Stephenson, Nafi Tuitavake, Jamie Elliott, George Furbank, Juan Pablo Estelles

Ulster team: Piutau; Ludik, Bowe, McCloskey, Busby; Nelson, Cooney; Black, Herring, Herbst, Diack, O’Connor, Ross, Henry, Deysel.

Replacements: McCall, McCall, Ah You, Browne, Coetzee, Shanahan, Herron, Trimble, Warwick, Simpson, Rea, Timoney, Montgomery, Marshall, Owens, McPhillips, Patterson.