Burrell to make Saints return


Published: Thursday 13th November 2014 by The News Editor

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Luther Burrell can fight his way back into England’s autumn Test series after beating his hand injury in time to start for Northampton against Exeter.

The Northampton centre missed England’s 24-21 defeat to New Zealand last weekend owing to the problem he suffered against the Ospreys on October 25.

England had feared Burrell would miss the entire autumn series, but the 26-year-old has been passed fit to face the Chiefs in Friday night’s Aviva Premiership clash at Franklin’s Gardens.

“England decided at the weekend that they weren’t going to play him and therefore it was better for him to get his recovery and do as much training as he could back at the club,” said Northampton boss Jim Mallinder.

“They wanted him to give himself as much opportunity to play at the weekend, and hopefully play well at the weekend, to put himself back into consideration for their last two games.”

England face South Africa at Twickenham on Saturday, with Kyle Eastmond and Brad Barritt continuing in the centres.

Northampton rugby director Mallinder believes Burrell can still force his way back into Stuart Lancaster’s England side, though, for the final autumn fixtures against Samoa and Australia.

Ben Foden, Lee Dickson and Calum Clark have all joined Burrell in being released by England to return for the Saints, who show 10 changes in all after LV= Cup duty.

Exeter rugby director Rob Baxter has warned his third-placed side the table-topping Saints will not be weakened by a raft of international absentees.

“This is the block of games that will show a lot about us as a team, our strength in depth and where we generally stand as we head towards Christmas,” said Baxter.

“We’ve played well but we also think we’ve lost a couple of Premiership games (to Leicester and Newcastle) that were there for the winning.

“Looking at things right now, there is no bigger challenge than going to Northampton, the current champions, and looking to get a result against them.

“For us, it’s a nice test and kind of what we need right now.

“Northampton will be used to having their international players away, you don’t win Premierships if you can’t get by without having internationals away.

“It happened to them last year, yet they still came out on top.

“They know perfectly how to deal with this scenario, so we’ve not worried too much about who is in and who is out for them.”

Gloucester host Harlequins at Kingsholm with Billy Twelvetrees slotting in at fly-half in the absence of James Hook, who has been called into the Wales squad.

Twelvetrees will captain the Cherry and Whites and partner Dan Robson in the half-back division, with Greig Laidlaw on Scotland duty.

Wales hooker Richard Hibbard takes a seat on the bench after being released from Warren Gatland’s squad in midweek.

Gloucester will hope head coach Laurie Fisher’s stint of consultancy work with Harlequins last term can offer insight into Conor O’Shea’s set-up.

The visitors to Kingsholm will be captained by former England loose-forward Nick Easter, with Nick Evans and George Lowe returning to the backline.

Dave Ward, Luke Wallace and George Robson all start in the pack.

Published: Thursday 13th November 2014 by The News Editor

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