Chris Ashton has been left out of the Northampton team for tomorrow’s Heineken Cup clash against Munster in Milton Keynes.
Ashton, who started Saints’ Pool One victory over the Scarlets last weekend, does not even make the replacements’ bench.
There have been reports of a fall-out between Saints rugby director Jim Mallinder and Ashton, whose move to Northampton’s Aviva Premiership rivals Saracens next season was confirmed by the Hertfordshire-based club yesterday.
However, despite the side issues Mallinder’s focus remains on the game.
“We’re disappointed we’re not in the Heineken Cup knockouts because we want to win every single game we can, but the Amlin Challenge Cup is a good competition and we used it as a good springboard a couple of years ago,” Mallinder said. “We had a good result at the Scarlets last week, and if we attack with the same intensity and defend with the same passion and determination then we will have a good chance against a tough Munster outfit.
“The first game against us and the second game against Castres sum up what this Munster team is all about. They didn’t win by much, but they won, and that’s what the Heineken Cup is all about. They’ve got the players in their squad who know how to win and it will be a very difficult game.
“We are definitely going into tomorrow’s match with our minds focused very much on getting the win. We have had a good run recently and have some big matches coming up, and want to keep our momentum going.”
Saints: Foden, Elliott, Pisi, Downey, Artemyev, Lamb, Dickson; Tonga’uiha, Hartley, Mujati, Manoa, Sorenson, Clark, Dowson, Wilson. Reps: Waller, Sharman, Doran-Jones, Day, Nutley, Roberts, Myler, Armstrong.