Dragons face up to Dan again
DAN Biggar will line up against the Dragons for a third time this season after being named in the Northampton side to take on the men of Gwent at Franklin’s Gardens today (3pm).
Biggar has already featured in a preseason outing and October’s round two Challenge Cup tie at Rodney Parade and is included in a strong line-up for the European clash in the East Midlands.
The former Ospreys favourite has returned to the Saints on the back of an impressive autumn series with Wales and will hope to continue that form as he looks to oust Gareth Anscombe from the No.10 jersey for the Six Nations.
Both the Dragons and Saints have reacted to league defeats last weekend by making wholesale changes.
Bernard Jackman has made eight in all following his side’s 59-10 Leinster humiliation and with one eye on the festive derbies has opted to rest the majority of his Wales squad members.
There are 10 changes to the Saints line-up, although head coach Chris Boyd is still able to field a formidable side that includes England internationals Luther Burrell, Tom Wood and Teimana Harrison, juggernaut wing Taqele Naiyaravoro and All Blacks prop Ben Franks.
While Ross Moriarty, Cory Hill, Tyler Morgan, Aaron Wainwright, Elliot Dee and the injured Leon Brown are missing, Hallam Amos is included and switches to his preferred full-back spot.
Arwel Robson was due to start at 10, but has picked up a hamstring issue, so Josh Lewis returns.
Up front, Samoan second row Brandon Nansen replaces Rynard Landman, while Nic Cudd slots in alongside Ollie Griffiths and Harrison Keddie in the back row.
Richard Hibbard continues to lead the side from hooker.
The Dragons were well beaten 34-21 by the Saints in Newport and are facing a major task to make the knockout stages with two matches still to come against French giants and tournament favourites Clermont Auvergne.
“It will be an incredible tough game as Northampton Saints have lots of quality,” said Jackman, who returns to stadium duty following his two-week ground suspension.
“However, we want to bounce back from last week’s disappointing display and it’s an opportunity to show the character in the squad.”
Centre Jack Dixon and prop Lloyd Fairbrother will reach a century of Dragons appearances at Franklin’s Gardens.
G Furbank; O Sleightholme, R Hutchinson, L Burrell, T Naiyaravoro; D Biggar, A Mitchell; A Waller (capt), J Fish, B Franks, A Ratuniyarawa, A Moon, J Gibson, T Wood, T Harrison. Reps: R Marshall, W Davis, E Painter, D Ribbans, M Eadie, C Reinach, F Strachan, A Kellaway,
Dragons: H Amos; D Howells, A Warren, J Dixon, Z Kirchner; J Lewis, T Knoyle; R Bevington, R Hibbard (capt), L Fairbrother, B Nansen, L Evans, H Keddie, N Cudd, O Griffiths. Reps: R Lawrence, A Jarvis, N Thomas, M Screech, H Taylor, J Benjamin, R Davies, J Williams.
Thomas Charabas (Fra).
Dan Biggar is back with his club Northampton