Saints have strong options as they look to fill Francis void for Wasps clash

Saints will have some strong selection options as they look to fill the void left by the injury Piers Francis suffered last Friday.

Wednesday, 2nd January 2019, 5:12 pm
Updated Thursday, 10th January 2019, 11:33 am
Piers Francis dislocated his shoulder against Exeter (picture: Sharon Lucey)

Francis dislocated his shoulder after scoring in the 31-28 Gallagher Premiership victory against table-toppers Exeter Chiefs.

He was forced off after just six minutes, with Fraser Dingwall coming on and producing a superb try-scoring showing.

Dingwall will hope to have done enough to have earned a start at Wasps on Sunday, but Saints are also boosted by the presence of Andrew Kellaway.

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The Australian back has been one of the stand-out players at Franklin's Gardens and has previously shown his capabilities at centre, as well as on the wing and at full-back.

He missed the trip to Worcester Warriors on December 21 due to an ankle injury but was fit to face Exeter even though he was not selected.

Kellaway got the chance to make his comeback last Sunday as he started for the Wanderers in their 38-36 win against Wasps at Broadstreet RFC.

And Saints defence coach Alan Dickens said: "A lot of the backs, whether it be for the Wanderers or the first team, have played well, and Kells is one of those.

"You look at someone like Sleights (Ollie Sleightholme), who keeps scoring, and it's a positive position to be in, to have so many options."

And on Dingwall, Dickens said: "Fraser's slotted in brilliantly this year.

"Chris (Boyd) has drip-fed him into the first team. He's played for the Wanderers, come off the bench and he's had first-team exposure.

"You saw last Friday night a team that try to pull you out of your defensive structure by going wide, and Fraser and Luther (Burrell) both made 18 tackles each.

"It shows where Exeter's focus was and it showed those two defended really well and managed most of the things that were thrown at them.

"He's certainly an old head on young shoulders."

Saints look set to be without co-captain Dylan Hartley on Sunday after he was ruled out of the Exeter game due to a knee problem.

"He has a really grumbling knee," said Saints boss Chris Boyd. "It's okay when he walks or runs but when he strides out there's a problem.

"We have to assess it week by week but we are not going to push it and we understand that we have to play a long game."