Former Wallaby Dan Vickerman will start for Northampton in Saturday's LV=Cup clash with Leeds at Franklins Gardens.
Leeds travel to Franklins Gardens on Saturday for the first of three games against Northampton in the second half of the season.
Director of rugby Jim Mallinder has emphasised the importance of a strong performance from the Northampton.
The Saints still have a mathematical chance of progressing to the semi-finals which hinge on winning against the Yorkshiremen. And with some crucial Aviva Premiership matches on the horizon for the Saints Mallinder says that he is looking for both a result and a performance from his players.
“We're still the LV= Cup holders and have approached tomorrow's game seriously, especially given that we have a outside chance of qualifying for the next stage of the competition,” said Mallinder .
“We took away several positives from last weekend's game, not least the performances of several players, and now some of the other members of the squad will have the opportunity to put their hand up for selection for the next few weeks.
“But before then we have a challenging game against a Leeds outfit that has a strong setpiece and a willingness to get the ball out wide quickly. So we will have to be at our best in all areas if we are to get a positive result at the Gardens tomorrow.”
Mallinder has made several changes to the team that travelled to Reading last week, and includes lock Dan Vickerman on the bench. The 54-times capped Wallaby played for the Saints in the Premiership at Edgeley Park last season and has been training with the club in recent weeks.
“Dan wants to play in the World Cup and approached us about the possibility of training with us,” Mallinder added. “With Courtney Lawes injured and Christian Day called up to the Saxons we also had an opportunity to give an experienced lock like Dan some game time. He's worked hard on his fitness and now he has to prove his match fitness too and we'll take things from there.”
Meanwhile, Leeds star Hendre Fourie is set to start for the club in an effort to prove his fitness to the England management.
Fourie suffered a calf strain in the Amlin Challenge Cup win over Bucharest a fortnight ago and missed out on his race to be fit for this Friday's opening Six Nations game in Cardiff. Instead he will start for Leeds at Franklins Gardens as part of a strong looking line up for the Yorkshire club.
Despite being unable to reach the knock out stages, the Leeds coaching staff have one eye on next week's massive Aviva Premiership clash against Leicester at Headingley Carnegie. Luther Burrell returns to action in the centre alongside James Tincknell whilst Scott Mathie replaces Warren Fury at scrum half.
In the pack Daniel Browne will appear against his former club after coming back from an injury suffered in Paris against Stade FranÃ§ais. Team skipper Marco Wentzel will start on the bench for Leeds.
Northampton: 15 Greig Tonks, 14 Paul Diggin, 13 Jon Clarke, 12 James Downey, 11 Bruce Reihana, 10 Shane Geraghty, 9 Ryan Powell, 8 Roger Wilson, 7 Mark Easter, 6 Phil Dowson (c), 5 Mark Sorenson, 4 Adam Eustace, 3 Brian Mujati, 2 Brett Sharman, 1 Soane Tonga'uiha.
Replacements: 16 Andy Long, 17 Ben Prescott, 18 Tom Mercey, 19 Dan Vickerman, 20 Ben Nutley, 21 Stuart Commins, 22 Joe Ford, 23 Scott Armstrong.
Leeds: 15 Cieron Thomas, 14 Lee Blackett, 13 James Tincknall, 12 Luther Burrell, 11 Michael Stephenson, 10 Lachlan Mackay, 9 Scott Mathie, 8 Alfie Tooala, 7 Hendre Fourie, 6 Daniel Browne, 5 Kearnan Myall, 4 Tom Dentom, 3 Phil Swainston, 2 Phil Nilsen, 1 Mike MacDonald.
Replacements: 16 Scott Freer, 17 Miguel Alonso, 18 Gareth Denman, 19 Marco Wentzel, 20 Jacob Rowan, 21 Warren Fury, 22 Peter Wackett, 23 Leigh Hinton.
Date: Saturday, February 5
Venue: Franklin's Gardens
Referee: Sean Davey (England)
Assistant referees: Gareth Copsey (England), Andrew Watson (England)
Coach: Clive Leeke (England)
Timekeeper: Mike Hamlin (England)