Saints sign Blues Super Rugby star

Mon, 20 Mar 2017 21:00
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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."

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FIXTURE GMT VENUE
Sat, 18 November 2017
Worcester Warriors v Northampton Saints 12h00 Sixways
Italy v Argentina 13h00 Florence
Leicester Tigers v Sale Sharks 14h00 Welford Road
Wales v Georgia 14h30 Cardiff
England v Australia 15h00 Twickenham
Wasps v Newcastle Falcons 15h30 Ricoh Arena
Ireland v Fiji 16h30 Aviva Stadium
Scotland v New Zealand 17h15 Edinburgh
France v South Africa 19h45 Paris
Sun, 19 November 2017
Exeter Chiefs v Harlequins 14h00 Sandy Park
Leicester Tigers v Bath 14h00 Madejski Stadium
Fri, 24 November 2017
Ospreys v Glasgow Warriors 22h00 Liberty Stadium
Ulster v Treviso 18h05 Kingspan Stadium
Leinster v Dragons 18h35 RDS Stadium
Cardiff Blues v Connacht 18h35 Cardiff Arms Park
Newcastle Falcons v Gloucester 18h45 Kingston Park
Leicester Tigers v Worcester Warriors 18h45 Welford Road
Sale Sharks v Northampton Saints 19h00 AJ Bell Stadium
RESULT SCORE
Fri, 17 November 2017
Gloucester v Saracens 23 | 17
Tue, 14 November 2017
France XV v New Zealand 23 | 28
Sat, 11 November 2017
France v New Zealand 18 | 38
Ireland v South Africa 38 | 3
Wales v Australia 21 | 29
England v Argentina 21 | 8
Scotland v Samoa 44 | 38
Italy v Fiji 19 | 10
Sat, 04 November 2017
Cardiff Blues v Zebre 37 | 8
Connacht v Cheetahs 23 | 15
Edinburgh v Ospreys 37 | 10
Barbarians v New Zealand 22 | 31
Kings v Ulster 36 | 43
Japan v Australia 30 | 63
Fri, 03 November 2017
Scarlets v Treviso 20 | 8
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Team P W D L Pts
Saracens 8 6 0 2 29
Exeter Chiefs 7 5 0 2 26
Gloucester 8 5 0 3 22
Leicester Tigers 7 5 0 2 21
Bath 7 4 0 3 20
Harlequins 7 4 0 3 20
Northampton Saints 7 4 0 3 20
Newcastle Falcons 7 4 0 3 20
Wasps 7 3 0 4 15
Sale Sharks 7 2 0 5 14
London Irish 7 1 0 6 6
Worcester Warriors 7 0 0 7 3