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Kent-born New Zealand rugby star Piers Francis signs for Northampton from Auckland Blues

PUBLISHED: 14:00 20 March 2017 | UPDATED: 14:00 20 March 2017

Former Maidstone rugby player Piers Francis

Former Maidstone rugby player Piers Francis

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Francis, a fly-half or centre who grew up in Gravesend, headed to New Zealand eight years ago

Aviva Premiership club Northampton have announced the signing of Auckland Blues’ Kent-born back Piers Francis.

Francis, a fly-half or centre who grew up in Gravesend and used to play for Maidstone, headed to New Zealand eight years ago and was part of the Auckland Academy before moving on to play in the National Provincial Championship and then Super Rugby.

He has played in all four rounds of this year’s Super Rugby competition, and he will move to Saints ahead of next season.

Francis, meanwhile, is likely to be part of the Blues squad set to face the British and Irish Lions in Auckland on June 7.

“Piers is a player who has been very impressive over the past couple of years,” Northampton rugby director Jim Mallinder told Saints’ official website.

“He is a very good playmaker who is comfortable with ball in hand, but who can also control a match with his kicking game, too.

“He has all the talent and temperament that it takes to be a success in the Premiership, and we are looking forward to him joining us later in the year.”

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