Debuts galore as Saints head to Sale for season opener

Ryan Olowofela starts against Sale (picture: Kirsty Edmonds)
Ryan Olowofela starts against Sale (picture: Kirsty Edmonds)

Saints will dish out several debuts in Saturday's season opener at Sale Sharks.

Tommy Freeman, Reuben Bird-Tulloch, Ryan Olowofela, Michael van Vuuren, Lewis Bean, Tui Uru, Henry Taylor and Tommy Mathews are all in line to make their first competitive appearance in Northampton colours.

As there was for last week's pre-season friendly defeat to Leinster at Franklin's Gardens, there will be a blend of youth and experience in the Saints team for the Premiership Rugby Cup clash at the AJ Bell Stadium.

But the back-line is pretty much all about youth, with James Grayson steering the ship from fly-half and Connor Tupai named in the No.9 shirt.

Teimana Harrison will skipper the side from the seven shirt, with Tom Wood and Mitch Eadie making up an experienced back row.

Sale Sharks: Hammersley; Solomona, S James, Van Rensburg, Ashton; R du Preez, Warr; Harrison, Webber, Cooper-Woolley; Beaumont (c), Phillips; Jean-Luc du Preez, B Curry, D du Preez.
Replacements: van der Merwe, Rodd, John, Evans, Postlethwaite, Papier, L James, McGuigan

Saints: Freeman; Sleightholme, Dingwall, Bird-Tulloch, Olowofela; Grayson, Tupai; B Franks, van Vuuren, Hill; Coles, Bean; Wood, Harrison (c), Eadie.
Replacements: Fish, Davis, Painter, Onojaife, Uru, Taylor, Mathews, Strachan.

Players missing for Saints: Andy Symons (knee), Harry Mallinder (knee), Dylan Hartley (knee), Alex Mitchell (knee), Reece Marshall (hamstring), Mikey Haywood (knee), Jamie Gibson (shoulder), Heinz Brüssow (ankle), Paddy Ryan (knee), Piers Francis (RWC), Courtney Lawes (RWC), Lewis Ludlam (RWC), Ahsee Tuala (RWC), Api Ratuniyarawa (RWC), Dan Biggar (RWC) and Cobus Reinach (RWC).