Skipper Dylan Hartley returns to the Saints starting line-up for Sunday’s stadium:mk showdown with Saracens in the Aviva Premiership.
Hartley replaces Mike Haywood at hooker, and is one of four changes to the team which lost to Harlequins at Franklin’s Gardens last weekend.
Hartley is available again after serving his two-week ban for clashing with Rory Best in the home Heineken Cup clash with Ulster.
The other changes see Alex Waller, Brian Mujati and Dom Waldouck come into the side in place of Soane Tonga’uiha, Paul Doran-Jones and Tom May.
The Saints start the second half of the Aviva Premiership campaign still within touching distance of the league’s top four, and director of rugby Jim Mallinder says that the team has a point to prove at stadiumMK.
“Things didn’t go quite our way against Harlequins so everyone has been focused and determined in training this week,” said Mallinder.
“We certainly have a point to prove against Saracens, and we have the belief in the players’ ability and desire to get a result in Milton Keynes.
“Saracens are one of the top teams in Europe, but we know that when we play at our best we are a match for anyone. So nothing less than a top performance will do as we look to end 2012 in a positive way.”
Saints team to play Saracens, stadium:mk, Sunday, December 30, kick-off 2.15pm: Ben Foden, Ken Pisi, George Pisi, Dom Waldouck, Jamie Elliott, Stephen Myler, Lee Dickson, Alex Waller, Dylan Hartley, Brian Mujati, Samu Manoa, Courtney Lawes, Tom Wood, Phil Dowson, GJ van Velze. Replacements: Mike Haywood, Soane Tonga’uiha, Paul Doran-Jones, Mark Sorenson, Calum Clark, Martin Roberts, Ryan Lamb, Tom May.