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Mikey Haywood starts for Saints against tricky Quins

Hooker delighted to be back in first team action after year out

Hooker Mike Haywood wants Saints to make it “three on the bounce” when Harlequins visit Franklin’s Gardens for the popular Friday Night Lights fixture.

Having returned from injury via the bench in the victory over Worcester, Haywood is now due to make his first start after a year out with knee ligament damage incurred when a maul collapsed on him.

He is fizzing enthusiasm to be playing again, and like many players he found being injured tough to cope with.

“It was weird – it went on for so long. I wasn’t able to straighten my leg fully and it was probably the physios and the boys in the team that got me through,” he said.

“I was watching all the boys perform and seeing them get to the semi-final and wanting to be part of it. We are a team that should be winning silverware and the boys did that last year and now we have to push on.

“We are two from two but if we had lost those games it would be a different story. It just goes to show what winning can do for a team but this weekend is a big challenge. We know what Quins are about and we have just got to perform and hopefully it’s three on the bounce.

“When you get a bit of momentum going – it’s like England, you see them building up over the pool stage, now everyone is like “you’re going to smoke it”. That psychological dominance is a great thing to have.”

Quins have lost away to Exeter 22-19 and then beat Bristol at home 22-17. Chris Robshaw is due to start and a potential danger man is winger Gabriel Ibitoye.

Saints coach Chris Boyd said: “They’re a tough side to prepare against. They have quite a lot of variation in the way they play depending who they play. They seem to bring a different bag of tricks to what we think they’re going to bring. Whatever we think it is, it will be slightly different on the day. They’re really physical at the breakdown. They’ve got a lot of good players. They are a good side.”

He is pleased with the start but keen not to get over confident so early in the season.

“Two wins out of 22 is well short of getting excited about. Our guys, particularly our young guys, have put us in this position. I’m really pleased with their improved understanding around the game,” he said.

“We think we are still nine or ten away from being able to select everybody because of the world cup or because of injuries. It never gets down to zero but with the young group we have got going at the moment we are really pleased with how they are going.

“There are a couple of young guys who have put their hands up and said later on in the season when we are battling away then if you need me I am here to do a job for you.”

Kick-off: 7.45pm

15 George Furbank
14 Tom Collins
13 Rory Hutchinson
12 Andrew Symons
11 Taqele Naiyaravoro
10 James Grayson
9 Henry Taylor

1 Ben Franks
2 Mikey Haywood
3 Ehren Painter
4 David Ribbans
5 Alex Moon
6 Tom Wood
7 Jamie Gibson
8 Teimana Harrison (c)

Replacements:
16 Michael Van Vuuren
17 Alex Waller
18 Paul Hill
19 Api Ratuniyarawa
20 Alex Coles
21 Connor Tupai
22 Fraser Dingwall
23 Ollie Sleightholme

Saints tickets here

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