Racing 92 v Northampton preview: Team news, kick-off time, line-ups, odds and stats for the Champions Cup clash
Racing Metro take on the Northampton Saints in their Champions Cup clash on Saturday: 15:15 kick-off
World Cup winner and All Black legend Dan Carter will run on for his first start in a blue and white jersey
Courtney Lawes returns as Saints make five changes following their narrow away win against Bath last weekend
Northampton Saints are set to face New Zealand’s World Cup-winning fly-half and World Player of the year Dan Carter when they take on high-flying Racing 92 in Paris on Saturday.
The 33-year-old will make his debut after arriving at Racing two weeks ago and if the French club, who are currently placed second in Pool Two, win then they will aleapfrog Saints into top spot.
Carter, who retired from international rugby after guiding the All Blacks to victory over Australia in the World Cup final at Twickenham in October, said: “There’s always going to be pressure, that’s part of the game that I love.
“I don’t think there’s going to be any more pressure playing here after what’s happened in my career than before most Test matches.”
Meanwhile, there are five changes to the Saints starting line-up from that which ran out against narrow 13-11 winners away against Bath last Saturday, with three coming up front while there are two in the backs.
Captain Lee Dickson returns to scrum-half to lead the team out at Stade Yves du Manoir in Colombes, with Tom Stephenson coming into the midfield, meaning Luther Burrell switched from 12 to 13.
Up front, there is a first start in Saints colours for Victor Matfield, while Alex Waller returns at prop in place of his brother.
The final change marks the return of England lock Courtney Lawes, who joins the pack for what will be a stiff test against the Top 14 high-flyers.
Racing 92 won the most recent meeting between the two sides 32-8 back in January
Of their last eight matches, Racing 92 have won six and drawn one with their only loss registered against English side Saracens
The French side have won only two of their last seven matches against English opposition – losing five – though both of those wins were against Northampton last season
In their their last eight matches in the Champions Cup, Northampton won six times and conceded 15.6 points per game over those eight fixtures.
BETTING ODDS (via SKY BET)
Racing Metro 1/3, Draw 33/1, Northampton 11/4
PLAYERS TO WATCH
Racing 92: Dan Carter
The World Cup winner takes over the fly-half duties for Racing 92 as he makes his first start for the Top 14 club. Carter, who won world player of the year,’ is a fantastic tactician, accurate kicker and tough tackler. The perfect player..
Northampton: Kieran Brookes
It has been said before, and it must be said again – what a signing Brookes has been for Saints. His scrummaging, his intensity and his precision so far this season surely will take him from England bench warmer to starting XV regular if he continues to impress.
Racing 92: 15 Brice Dulin, 14 Joe Rokocoko, 13 Casey Laulala, 12 Henry Chavancy, 11 Juan Imhoff, 10 Dan Carter, 9 Mike Phillips, 8 Chris Masoe, 7 Yannick Nyanga, 6 Wenceslas Lauret, 5 Francois van der Merwe, 4 Luke Charteris, 3 Ben Tameifuna, 2 Dimitri Szarzewski (c), 1 Eddy Ben Arous.
Replacements: 16 Camille Chat, 17 Julien Brugnaut, 18 Cedate Gomes Sa, 19 Manuel Carizza, 20 Antonie Claassen, 21 Johannes Goosen, 22 Alexandre Dumoulin, 23 Maxime Machenaud.
Northampton Saints: 15 Ben Foden, 14 Jamie Elliott, 13 Luther Burrell, 12 Tom Stephenson, 11 George North 10 JJ Hanrahan, 9 Lee Dickson, 8 Sam Dickinson, 7 Teimana Harrison, 6 Courtney Lawes, 5 Victor Matfield, 4 Michael Paterson, 3 Kieran Brookes, 2 Mikey Haywood, 1 Alex Waller.
Replacements: 16 Matti Williams, 17 Ethan Waller, 18 Paul Hill, 19 Christian Day, 20 Jamie Gibson, 21 Kahn Fotuali’i, 22 Steve Myler, 23 Ah See Tuala.
Date: Saturday, December 12
Venue: Stade Yves-du-Manoir
Kick-off: 16:15 local (15:15 GMT)
Referee: George Clancy (Ireland)
Assistant Referees: Dudley Phillips (Ireland), Mark Patton (Ireland)
TMO: Marshall Kilgore (Ireland)