Francis ready to kick on after successful Saints comeback

Piers Francis enjoyed a successful return to action last Saturday (picture: Kirsty Edmonds)
Piers Francis enjoyed a successful return to action last Saturday (picture: Kirsty Edmonds)

Piers Francis is setting his sights on a big end to the season at Saints after making a successful return from a shoulder injury last weekend.

Francis played the full 80 minutes, starring as his side earned a superb 67-17 success against Sale Sharks at Franklin's Gardens last Saturday.

It was his first outing since dislocating his shoulder in the early stages of the December 28 win against Exeter Chiefs.

But Francis suffered no adverse effects on his return, producing a big display at inside centre as he propelled his team to a big Gallagher Premiership victory.

"The return was well timed wasn't it?," Francis said. "It was a good team performance!

"It's not been too long a road for me. The decision I took at the time was to rehabilitate the shoulder to get me back on the pitch as soon as possible and I've done that.

"The shoulder felt really good and I'm really confident with it.

"As I say - it was well timed with a good performance back in the Prem against a good Sale team."

Francis opted to avoid surgery on the shoulder and he feels that can continue to be the case following some successful rehabilitation.

"As far as it goes at the moment, everything's good," he said.

"I'll continue to put more focus around it than other parts of my body at the moment but we're pretty good going forward and hopefully there shouldn't be an recurrences.

"It's always good to get 80 minutes like I did last weekend.

"Potentially Luther (Burrell) might have come on to do a bit of a swap for me but Ace's (Ahsee Tuala) calf cramped and that meant a reshuffle.

"But it was good to get 80 minutes under my belt and that should set me up for the next few weeks hopefully."

Francis even took over kicking duties after Dan Biggar was forced off early on.

And it was a good day from the tee for the centre, who landed six conversions.

"It was unfortunate for Dan to go off when he did but then it was nice to be given the kicking tee," the 28-year-old said.

"It's a big part of my game, I work a lot on it and it's good to be given the opportunity to display it.

"I'm very pleased with that as well."

Francis is now gearing up for another big Franklin's Gardens game, with Bath in town this afternoon.

"We're seventh and Bath are sixth and the table is very condensed," Francis said.

"Sale was a huge game for us and Bath is now an even bigger game.

"When we play teams around us in a congested part of the table, it's so important.

"They're a decent outfit but we're going to put another big performance on at home.

"If you can make your home ground a fortress it does put fear into other teams and it turns four-point wins into five-point wins.

"It's a fantastic surface here - the groundsmen work really hard - and it really helps us and how we want to play."