Wood makes immediate return as Saints square up to Saracens

Tom Wood was sent off in the game against Stade Franais, but he is back from his ban and starts for Saints at Twickenham on Saturday (picture: Sharon Lucey)
Tom Wood was sent off in the game against Stade Franais, but he is back from his ban and starts for Saints at Twickenham on Saturday (picture: Sharon Lucey)

Tom Wood is thrust straight back into the Saints team for the Aviva Premiership opener against Saracens at Twickenham on Saturday (kick-off 2pm).

The flanker only completed his six-week ban on Monday and has not been able to play in any of the pre-season games.

But Wood, who was suspended for stamping in the Champions Cup play-off final win against Stade Français in May, lines up at six against Saracens.

The back row also includes youngster Lewis Ludlam and Mitch Eadie, who will make his first Premiership appearance after joining Saints from Bristol during the summer.

Harry Mallinder starts at 10, with Stephen Myler (knee) and new signing Piers Francis (jaw) both injured.

Tom Collins starts on the wing after an impressive pre-season that saw him score four times, while young fly-half James Grayson is named among the replacements.

But George North is not involved, despite having recovered from a hamstring injury, as Saints will give him more time to get up to speed after not playing during pre-season.

New signings Cobus Reinach and Rob Horne only arrived at Franklin's Gardens earlier in the week and they could play for the Wanderers at Sale on Monday night.

Meanwhile, Saracens have named Maro Itoje in their team, with the Lions forward starting at six.

But Mark McCall's men will be without star names such as Mako Vunipola, Billy Vunipola and Owen Farrell this weekend.

Saracens: Goode; Maitland, Taylor, Barritt (c), Earle; Lozowski, Wigglesworth; Barrington, Brits, Koch; Day, Kruis; Itoje, Burger, Wray.

Replacements: Spurling, Thompson-Stringer, Figallo, Isiekwe, Rhodes, Spencer, Bosch, Wyles.

Saints: Tuala; Foden, Tuitavake, Burrell, Collins; Mallinder, Groom; Waller, Hartley (c), Brookes; Lawes, Day; Wood, Ludlam, Eadie.

Replacements: Haywood, Ma'afu, Hill, Ribbans, Gibson, Mitchell, Grayson, Pisi.