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England and Hartley target more Six Nations glory

The Six Nations gets underway later, with England looking to defend the title they won in such impressive fashion a year ago.

The Red Rose, led by Northampton Saints hooker Dylan Hartley, are unbeaten in 14 matches and host France at Twickenham live on ITV this evening.

Louis Picamoles will line up for the French, while fellow Saints star George North will have to wait until tomorrow for his first appearance of the tournament when Wales travel to Italy.

England v France, Six Nations, Saturday 4 February, 16:50, live on ITV

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Northampton Saints star Hanrahan to return to Ireland

JJ Hanrahan is returning to Ireland. Credit: PA

Northampton Saints fly-half JJ Hanrahan will return to former club Munster this summer.

The 24-year-old left the Irish province to join the Saints back in 2015, but will now rejoin his former employers at the end of the season.

Hanrahan has made more than 30 appearances for the Saints during his time at Franklin's Gardens.

Fellow Irish players Chris Farrell and James Hart have also agreed to move to Munster.

I've always indicated our intention to recruit Irish qualified players where and when possible so to secure the young trio of Farrell, Hanrahan and Hart is great for the province and Irish rugby in general.

In addition to being hugely talented they bring a wealth of knowledge with their combined experiences from playing abroad and this will help with our overall squad development.

– Rassie Erasmus, Munster Director of Rugby

North makes successful return as Saints win at Gloucester

George North made his return to the Northampton Saints squad yesterday. Credit: PA
  • Gloucester 12-13 Northampton Saints

George North made a successful return to rugby yesterday as he helped his Northampton Saints side beat Gloucester in the Aviva Premiership.

The Welsh international showed no ill effects from the head injury that had seen him sidelined since early December and came through the match unscathed.

A dramatic late penalty try won the game for the Saints, who were trailing 12-6 with just seven minutes to go.

The victory lifted Jim Mallinder's men up to sixth in the Premiership ahead of their game against bottom-of-the-table Bristol next Saturday (January 7).

North missing from Northampton squad to face Sale

North won't play against Sale. Credit: PA

Northampton Saints have decided against selecting George North for their Premiership clash against Sale tomorrow night.

It was thought the 24-year-old would be involved at Franklin's Gardens but he hasn't made the 23-man squad.

Northampton were told yesterday they won't face any sanctions following an investigation into the Welsh international's recent head injury against Leicester.

George North has both trained with the squad and undergone a specialist review this week.

All parties have agreed that North continue with a full training schedule with the rest of the club’s players to ensure he is fully prepared for first team action.

– Northampton Saints statement
  • Northampton Saints team to face Sale Sharks

Ben Foden, Ken Pisi, Luther Burrell, JJ Hanrahan, Juan Pablo Estelles Stephen Myler, Nic Groom, Alex Waller, Mikey Haywood, Kieran Brookes, Courtney Lawes, Christian Day, Tom Wood (capt), Teimana Harrison, Louis Picamoles

North expected to be cleared for Sale clash

George North could return against Sale. Credit: PA

George North could be in line to make his Northampton Saints comeback as early as Friday night.

The Welsh international fell awkwardly on his head following a tackle by Leicester's Adam Thompstone earlier this month.

Providing a specialist gives him the all clear, he's likely to be back in contention for the Saints' Premiership clash against Sale.

A Concussion Management Review Group is due to reveal the findings of their investigation into why North was allowed to play on against Leicester at some point tomorrow.

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Northampton Saints sign Canadian prop Ilnicki

Jake Ilnicki. Credit: PA

Northampton Saints have signed Canadian prop Jake Ilnicki on a deal until the end of the season.

The 24-year-old was part of the Canada squad for last year's World Cup and featured in their recent autumn international against Ireland.

Ilnicki has played in New Zealand, Australia and America so far in his career and will make his Saints 'A' team debut against Leicester tonight.

Hartley banned for six weeks following Leinster red

The England captain lasted just six minutes off the bench Credit: PA Images

Northampton Saints forward Dylan Hartley has been banned for six weeks following his sending off during their defeat against Leinster in the European Rugby Champions Cup at Franklin's Gardens.

The England captain lasted just six minutes off the bench after he was red-carded for a swinging arm tackle on Leinster's Sean O'Brien.

Prior to this Hartley had already served a total of 54 weeks suspension, the longest being 26 weeks for eye-gouging. His punishments also cost him the chance to play with the British Lions in 2013, and for England in last year's Rugby World Cup.

The six-week ban means Hartley will be able to start in England's Six Nations opener against France at Twickenham on February 4.

Dylan Hartley to learn red card fate on Wednesday

Dylan Hartley will learn on Wednesday if he will be available to lead England into the RBS Six Nations Credit: PA

Northampton Saints forward Dylan Hartley will find out on Wednesday if he'll be able to lead England into the Six Nations.

The England captain lasted just six minutes off the bench after he was red-carded in the Saints' 37-10 defeat to Leinster on Friday in the European Rugby Champions Cup at Franklin's Gardens.

The dismissal capped a miserable night for Saints fans who are genuinely concerned about the club's ill discipline on the field and poor form.

A suspension of eight weeks or more would rule him out of the Six Nations opener against France at Twickenham on February 4.

Hartley will appear before an independent hearing to discover the length of the ban.

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