The Northampton Saints team named for Saturday’s LV= Cup game against Wasps shows a blend of youth and experience.
The likes of centre Tom Stephenson, fly-half Sam Olver, hooker Matti Williams and flanker Teimana Harrison fall into the former category, with scrum-half Kahn Fotuali’i, prop Alex Corbisiero and captain Phil Dowson providing the experience.
Once again there is a healthy contingent of players in the match day squad who have come through the Saints Academy system – 11 in all – and another debutant, Samoan full-back Ahsee Tuala.
Meanwhile, the Wasps starting side sees five changes from last weekend. Will Taylor starts in the front row after making his return from injury last Sunday, Elliot Daly, Tom Varndell and Rob Miller return to boost the backline, with Jack Gash joining up with the squad from Rosslyn Park to start at scrum half in the absence of Charlie Davies, Jack Moates, Tom Bliss and James Small-Edwards through injury.
Carlo Festuccia, Simon McIntyre, Jake Cooper-Woolley, Kearnan Myall, Nathan Hughes and Andy Goode all provide firepower off the bench, with Academy centre George Eastwell called back from Henley Hawks to be included among the substitutes.
Ahead of the game, Wasps Attack Coach Stephen Jones said, “Northampton are a team that we respect but we are going there to back our skill set and to play the style of rugby we enjoy.
“We head into a very important block of Aviva Premiership fixtures after this game and, with the league so tight, we need a good performance this week to give us momentum going into those matches and to build on where we are at currently.
“The challenge we have this weekend is to show what we’ve learnt from last week; to play for the full 80 minutes and to show control at key moments.”
Northampton: 15 Ahsee Tuala, 14 Ken Pisi, 13 Dom Waldouck, 12 Tom Stephenson, 11 Jamie Elliott, 10 Sam Olver, 9 Kahn Fotuali’i, 8 Sam Dickinson, 7 Teimana Harrison, 6 Phil Dowson (c), 5 James Craig, 4 Tom Ryder, 3 Gareth Denman, 2 Matti Williams, 1 Alex Corbisiero.
Replacements: 16 Mike Haywood, 17 Ethan Waller, 18 Salesi Ma’afu, 19 Alex Woolford, 20 Ben Nutley, 21 Alex Day, 22 Will Hooley, 23 George Pisi.
Wasps: 15 Rob Miller, 14 Josh Bassett, 13 Elliot Daly, 12 Will Helu, 11 Tom Varndell, 10 Alex Lozowski, 9 Jack Gash, 8 Guy Thompson, 7 Thomas Young, 6 Ed Jackson (c), 5 James Cannon, 4 Will Rowlands, 3 Will Taylor, 2 Tom Lindsay, 1 John Yapp.
Replacements: 16 Carlo Festuccia, 17 Simon McIntyre, 18 Jake Cooper-Woolley, 19 Kearnan Myall, 20 Nathan Hughes, 21 Andy Goode, 22 Glyn Hughes, 23 George Eastwell
Date: Saturday, February 7
Venue: Franklin’s Gardens
Kick-off: 15:15 GMT