Northampton break semi-final hoodoo to set up showdown with Leicester
Wales winger can help take Northampton to the next level, says Jim Mallinder.
Six weeks ahead of the start of the rugby season and Northampton Saints have been testing their fitness with a rigorous military workout.
Back-to-back wins for Northampton Saints certainly led to a positive forum between season ticket holders and Saints chairman Leon Barnwell on Thursday night.
A couple of players were able to transmit some of that positivity during a visit to one of the town's primary schools ahead of the visit by London Irish on Saturday.
Click below to watch a report by ITV News Anglia's Sports Correspondent Donovan Blake:
Northampton Saints' players Courtney Lawes, Tom Wood and Dylan Hartley have been named in the team to play France in the RBS 6 Nations Rugby match at Twickenham on Saturday.
Norfolk player Ben Youngs is also in the starting line-up. His brother, Tom, has been named as a replacement.
In Rugby Union there's been a big blow for Northampton Saints and England today after flanker Calum Clark confirmed he needs a shoulder operation.
The 23-year-old was injured in the weekend Heineken Cup defeat against Glasgow and has said he'll be out of action for the foreseeable future.
As well as being a crucial stage of the season for Saints, it also means that Clark is almost certain to miss the whole of the Six Nations championship which begins next month.
Northampton Saints lost by a single point and the thickness of the crossbar against Saracens in the Premiership this afternoon.
Saracens raced into an early 11-0 lead at the Stadium:MK, but a Phil Dowson try and a conversion, plus a penalty from Stephen Myler brought Saints back to 11-10 at the break.
The second was tight, with the teams exchanging penalties. But with the 80 minutes up, fly-half Stephen Myler had a long range chance to win it for Saints - but his penalty attempt hit the cross bar and came back, giving Saracens victory by 17 points to 16.
It has been confirmed that Northampton and England forward Dylan Hartley is to face a disciplinary hearing.
It comes after he was cited for striking Ulster forward Rory Best with his arm during a Heineken Cup Pool 4 match on Friday 7 December. The European Rugby Cup said that details of the hearing date will be announced shortly.
Northampton Saints say full-back Ben Foden is likely out be out for a number of weeks after being injured in last Friday's Aviva Premiership victory over Bath.
The club says Foden, 27, damaged his ankle ligaments and is due to see a specialist on Wednesday.
It means he may also miss England's autumn series of internationals which start in November.
This evening the Saints visit Bath, which means an afternoon trip to the West Country for a band of their loyal supporters. Donovan Blake reports.
Northampton Saints say they are disappointed but accept the four week ban handed down to their South African Number eight Gerrit-Jan van Velze after the win over Exeter last Sunday.
Premiership rugby returns to the region on Sunday as Northampton Saints play their first home game of the new season.
The Saints host the Chiefs from Exeter with a much changed squad, although their desire to win silverware certainly hasn't changed. Donovan Blake has more...