Saints sign Blues Super Rugby star

Mon, 20 Mar 2017 21:00
Large piers francis blues 800

NEWS: Northampton Saints has secured the services of a talented Piers Francis ahead of the 2017/18 season.

Over the past year the 26-year-old has emerged as one of the most exciting talents in Super Rugby.

After following in the footsteps of the likes of Martin Johnson and the Saints' own Tom Wood in heading to New Zealand eight years ago to develop his game, Francis caught the eye of the Auckland Academy coaching staff while playing club rugby and was quickly gaining experience in the National Provincial Championship for Auckland and Waikato.

After a short stint in Edinburgh, Francis was back in New Zealand and impressed Tana Umaga at Counties Manukau, so much so that he was drafted into the Blues' squad for 2016.

Francis' play-making abilities in his 11 appearances earned him the Rookie of the Year honours for the Super Rugby outfit, and later in the year he was at flyhalf guiding Counties Manukau to a first win over Auckland at Eden Park in 39 years, en route to the NPC semifinals.

This year Francis has become a member of the Blues' core squad and leadership group and has played in all four rounds of Super Rugby played to date.

While he has thoroughly enjoyed his time in New Zealand the Gravesend-born back is looking forward to returning to England and playing for the Saints in the Premiership.

"I will always be thankful for my opportunities in New Zealand, and to Tana Umaga for giving me my chance with Counties Manukau and with The Blues," he said.

"It's been a brilliant time for me in Auckland, but I'm now excited by the prospect of joining the Saints and getting to grips with the Premiership.

"Northampton is a massive club that's known the world over, and I'm joining a team with a huge amount of talent. It's going to be brilliant to be training and playing alongside the calibre of players in the squad.

"I can't wait to get started at Franklin's Gardens, but before that there's a lot of rugby still to be played in Super Rugby, and hopefully a game against the British and Irish Lions, too!"

Director of rugby Jim Mallinder is delighted that Francis has agreed to join the Saints.

"Piers is a player who has been very impressive over the past couple of years," he said.

"He is a very good playmaker who is comfortable with ball in hand but who can also control a match with his kicking game, too. He has all the talent and temperament that it takes to be a success in the Premiership and we're looking forward to him joining us later in the year.

"We're already excited about 2017/18 and the signings we have made, with Piers joining Rob Horne and Cobus Reinach in the backs and Mitch Eadie and Jamal Ford Robinson in the forwards. Plenty of our current players also starred in the Six Nations and we believe that we will be in the position to compete at the top end of the Premiership next season."

There are currently no matches being played
FIXTURE GMT VENUE
Fri, 28 April 2017
Highlanders v Stormers 07h35 Dunedin
Cardiff Blues v Zebre 18h05 Cardiff
Edinburgh v Dragons 18h35 Myreside
Leinster v Glasgow Warriors 18h35 RDS Arena
Newcastle Falcons v Worcester Warriors 19h00 Kingston Park
Sat, 29 April 2017
Chiefs v Sunwolves 07h35 Hamilton
Reds v Waratahs 09h45 Suncorp Stadium
Force v Lions 11h55 Perth
Ospreys v Ulster 14h00 Liberty Stadium
Bath v Gloucester 14h00 Recreation Ground
Exeter Chiefs v Northampton Saints 14h00 Sandy Park
Saracens v Bristol 14h00 Allianz Park
Harlequins v Wasps 14h00 Twickenham Stoop
Leicester Tigers v Sale Sharks 14h00 Welford Road
Cheetahs v Crusaders 15h15 Bloemfontein
Treviso v Munster 17h05 Stadio Monigo
Kings v Rebels 17h30 Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium
Connacht v Scarlets 18h35 Sportsground
Jaguares v Sharks 19h40 Buenos Aires
Sun, 30 April 2017
Brumbies v Blues 06h05 Canberra
RESULT SCORE
Sun, 23 April 2017
Clermont Auvergne v Leinster 27 | 22
Sat, 22 April 2017
Sharks v Rebels 9 | 9
Bulls v Cheetahs 20 | 14
Munster v Saracens 10 | 26
Force v Chiefs 7 | 16
Crusaders v Stormers 57 | 24
Highlanders v Sunwolves 40 | 15
Fri, 21 April 2017
Lions v Jaguares 24 | 21
Waratahs v Kings 24 | 26
Hurricanes v Brumbies 56 | 21
Mon, 17 April 2017
UP-Tuks v Maties 28 | 21
Sun, 16 April 2017
Bristol v Wasps 21 | 36
Northampton Saints v Saracens 25 | 27
Sat, 15 April 2017
Connacht v Leinster 24 | 37
Treviso v Edinburgh 21 | 6
PREMIERSHIP
MORE LOGS
Team P W D L Pts
Wasps 20 16 1 3 79
Exeter Chiefs 20 13 3 4 74
Saracens 20 15 1 4 72
Leicester Tigers 20 12 0 8 57
Bath 20 11 0 9 53
Northampton Saints 20 9 0 11 48
Harlequins 20 10 0 10 47
Gloucester 20 7 2 11 46
Newcastle Falcons 20 8 0 12 40
Sale Sharks 20 6 1 13 36
Worcester Warriors 20 5 2 13 31
Bristol 20 3 0 17 19