Blues first five Piers Francis to leave NZ, heading to Carlos Spencer's old club

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The Blues are once again looking for a new first-five for next season after Piers Francis announced he was heading overseas next year.

Blues' back five Piers Francis looks to evade Chiefs' first five Aaron Cruden during the Super Rugby rugby match - Chiefs v Blues played at FMG Stadium Waikato, Hamilton, New Zealand on Friday 3 March 2017.  Copyright photo: Bruce Lim / www.photosport.nz

Blues' back five Piers Francis looks to evade Chiefs' first five Aaron Cruden.

Source: Photosport

Francis, who has played 15 matches for the the Blues so far, is going to the English Premiership to play for Northampton Saints, following in the footsteps of Blues legend Carlos Spencer who made the switch in 2005. 

The English native started his first match of the season in the number 10 jersey last weekend against the Crusaders after coach Tana Umaga opted to remove usual first five Ihaia West from the starting lineup for a string of poor performances.

The first-five struggled in last week's loss to the Highlanders, prompting Umaga to look for solutions ahead of their clash with the Crusaders.
Source: 1 NEWS

The 26-year-old has scored 56 points with the Blues in his career so far.

"I will always be thankful for my opportunities in New Zealand, and to Tana Umaga for giving me my chance with Counties Manukau and with the Blues," Francis said.

"It's been a brilliant time for me in Auckland, but I'm now excited by the prospect of joining the Saints and getting to grips with the Aviva Premiership."

Francis played for Auckland and Waikato after moving to New Zealand when he was 18 before headed overseas to Edinburgh in 2012 - he returned in 2015 to play under Umaga at Counties Manukau before making his Super Rugby debut with the Auckland franchise last year against the Jaguares.

"Northampton is a massive club that's known the world over, and I'm joining a team with a huge amount of talent. It's going to be brilliant to be training and playing alongside the calibre of players in the squad," he said. 

"I can't wait to get started at Franklin's Gardens, but before that there's a lot of rugby still to be played in Super Rugby, and hopefully a game against the British and Irish Lions, too."

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