Courtney Lawes will make his 250th appearance for Northampton Saints in Sunday’s Heineken Champions Cup clash against Ulster Rugby.
The 32-year-old England international and British & Irish Lion brings up his latest milestone in a storied career which has seen him in Black, Green and Gold for 15 seasons.
Lawes returns to the starting line-up as one of three changes for Saints, with Tom Litchfield set to make his European debut in the centres while lock Brandon Nansen starts only his second match for Northampton in the second row.
The Irish province edged the Round 2 clash between the sides, 27-22 at the Kingspan Stadium; this will be the seventh clash between Ulster and Northampton in the Heineken Champions Cup, with each team having won three games apiece.
Flanker Lewis Ludlam will lead out the hosts for the cinch Stadium at Franklin’s Gardens clash, with Lawes and No.8 Teimana Harrison rounding off the back row.
Nansen makes his first appearance since November for Saints, joining David Ribbans in the engine room, while Northampton name an unchanged front row from the side that beat Newcastle Falcons last weekend as props Alex Waller and Paul Hill pack down either side of Sam Matavesi at hooker.
Alex Mitchell and Dan Biggar continue in the half-back berths for the fourth straight match, but there are changes in the midfield as 19-year-old Litchfield starts his first Heineken Champions Cup match, with Rory Hutchinson named at inside centre.
George Furbank continues at fullback for Saints with wingers Tom Collins and Courtnall Skosan – who both scored in last weekend’s victory at Kingston Park – completing the back three for the hosts.
Northampton opt for a six-two split on the bench, with Juarno Augustus returning from injury to take his place amongst the replacements alongside the likes of Api Ratuniyarawa, Tom James and Tommy Freeman.
NORTHAMPTON SAINTS vs ULSTER RUGBY
Heineken Champions Cup, Pool A, Round 3
Sunday 16 January 2022
cinch Stadium at Franklin’s Gardens
15 George Furbank
14 Courtnall Skosan
13 Tom Litchfield
12 Rory Hutchinson
11 Tom Collins
10 Dan Biggar
9 Alex Mitchell
1 Alex Waller
2 Sam Matavesi
3 Paul Hill
4 David Ribbans
5 Brandon Nansen
6 Courtney Lawes
7 Lewis Ludlam (c)
8 Teimana Harrison
16 James Fish
17 Emmanuel Iyogun
18 Ehren Painter
19 Api Ratuniyarawa
20 Alex Coles
21 Juarno Augustus
22 Tom James
23 Tommy Freeman
Not considered for selection:
Emeka Atuanya, Callum Burns, Piers Francis, Oisín Heffernan, Alex Moon, Taqele Naiyaravoro, Matt Proctor, and Kayde Sylvester.
Referee: Pierre Brousset
Assistant referees: Luc Ramos and Flavien Hourquet
No.4: Darryl Chapman
TMO: Eric Gauzins