George Pisi is the surprise named in the Saints team named for Sunday’s Heineken Cup clash with Glasgow Warriors at Franklin’s Gardens.
Pisi has been out with a shoulder injury and wasn’t expected to make a swift return, but he has regained full fitness sooner than expected and plays on Sunday.
His inclusion is one of four changes made by Saints, with skipper Dylan Hartley returning at hooker, the fit-again James Wilson slotting in at full-back Rhys Oakley coming back in at No.8.
There is also the bonus of the return to the matchday sqaud of GJ Van Velze following his four-week ban.
Director of rugby Jim Mallinder says nothing less than a massive improvement on the performance against London Irish last weekend is necessary from Saints at the Gardens.
Saints head into Europe sitting at the top of the Aviva Premiership Rugby table, but Glasgow are come to town on the back of four straight wins – including two on the road in Cardiff and Swansea – and lying third in the Pro 12 standings.
So Mallinder knows that the Warriors are not to be underestimated.
“You don’t win at places like the Arms Park and Liberty Stadium unless you are a good team and Glasgow have shown in the last couple of seasons that they are developing into a dangerous outfit,” he said.
“Gregor Townsend has a squad which is full of international, Heineken Cup and Pro 12 experience, and they have followed up last season’s Pro 12 semi-final with a good start to the season.
“From our perspective we know we need to get off to a good start in the Heineken Cup and make the most of starting our campaign at home.
“But if we are to get the result we want we know that nothing less than a massive step up from last weekend’s game will do.
“All of the players have worked hard in training this week and are determined to get another winning run started on Sunday.”
Tickets remain available for Sunday’s game. Visit www.northamptonsaints.co.uk/tickets and follow the instructions.
Saints team v Warriors: James Wilson; Ken Pisi, George Pisi, Dom Waldouck, Vasily Artemyev; Stephen Myler, Lee Dickson; Soane Tonga’uiha, Dylan Hartley, Brian Mujati, Samu Manoa, Courtney Lawes, Phil Dowson, Tom Wood, Rhys Oakley. Replacements: Mike Haywood, Alex Waller, Paul Doran-Jones, Mark Sorenson, GJ Van Velze, Martin Roberts, Ryan Lamb, Tom May.