Winning selection for England’s tour of Argentina last June came exactly four weeks to the day after Piers Francis signed a Northampton contract that began this season. He produced an impressive display in his first Test appearance against the Pumas at San Juan that was crowned by his exchange of passes with George Ford, who ran 35 metres for a try that brought the scores level at 31-31 on the way to a 38-34 victory. Piers marked his first start the following week at Sante Fe with a maiden touchdown that helped England towards a 2-0 series win. His third cap and Twickenham debut was in the 48-14 triumph over Samoa this November.
The Saints have recruited him from Super Rugby side Auckland Blues. Piers was born in Gravesend, played for Maidstone and moved to New Zealand in 2009, having served a three-year apprenticeship with Saracens Academy.
He stayed in the Antipodes for two years, appearing for Waikato and the Chiefs Wider Training Group before returning to the UK to join Edinburgh on a two-year contract but spent eight months on the side-lines through a foot injury. After a brief spell with Greene King Championship club Doncaster Knights, Piers went back to New Zealand to play under Tana Umaga for Counties Manukau. His eye-catching performances brought him selection for the Blues before he won the franchise’s rookie of the year award.
His communication, fitness and physicality impressed shrewd judges after he waited for five rounds to be given an opportunity. He then started 11 consecutive games in the No.12 shirt and took over the goal-kicking in late season, scoring 36 points in three matches.
After signing for the Saints, he said: “Northampton is a massive club that’s known the world over and I’m joining a team with a huge amount of talent. It has been a brilliant time for me in Auckland but now I’m excited by the prospect of playing at Franklin’s Gardens and getting to grips with the Premiership.”
5 points - 1T
2017 Arg (1,2), Sam(R)
Last updated: 26 November 2017