Clark starts for Saints at Leicester after ban ends

LAST TIME OUT - the LV= Cup final against Leicester was the last time Calum Clark played for Saints but the flanker returns from a 32-week ban to face the Tigers on Saturday
LAST TIME OUT - the LV= Cup final against Leicester was the last time Calum Clark played for Saints but the flanker returns from a 32-week ban to face the Tigers on Saturday

Calum Clark will start for Saints at Leicester Tigers on Saturday after his 32-week ban ended on Friday.

The flanker makes his first appearance for Northampton since receiving the suspension for hyper-extending the elbow of Tigers forward Rob Hawkins during the LV= Cup final in March.

Also starting for the first time this season will be wing Jamie Elliott, who has recovered from a hamstring injury to take the place of Vasily Artemyev on the wing.

Tom May is given the nod at full-back, Martin Roberts replaces England man Lee Dickson at scrum-half and Phil Dowson captains the side.

Samu Manoa and Mike Haywood come in for injured duo Courtney Lawes and Dylan Hartley, who were forced off in the 16-6 defeat to Saracens last Saturday.

That result saw the Saints slip from the top of the Aviva Premiership Rugby table, but director of rugby Jim Mallinder believes that there were plenty of good things to take from that performance.

“Of course we want to win, but rugby is also about the way you play and there has been plenty to build on from our previous games,” he said.

“We’ve looked at our past performances and there have been bits where we’ve played well and bits where we haven’t. Of course we’ve worked on those areas and while it’s going to be a massive challenge at Welford Road it’s one that we’re up for.

“We’ve got a good side who have had the right attitude in training, and hopefully we’ll have the right performance which will lead to the result we want.”

Saints: May; K Pisi, G Pisi, Waldouck, Elliott; Lamb, Roberts, Tonga’uiha, Haywood, Mujati; Manoa, Sorenson, Clark, Dowson, van Velze.

Replacements: McMillan, Waller, Doran-Jones, Nutley, Oakley, Day, Burrell, Artemyev.

Leicester Tigers: Murphy; Hamilton, Allen, Smith, Morris; Ford, Youngs; Ayerza, Chuter, Castrogiovanni; Deacon, Kitchener; Mafi, Salvi, Thorpe.

Replacements: Stevens, Stankovich, Balmain, Slater, Noone, Harrison, Bowden, Goneva.