Piers Francis: Northampton Saints sign Auckland Blues fly-half
Northampton Saints have signed fly-half Piers Francis from New Zealand Super Rugby side Auckland Blues.
English-born Francis moved to New Zealand in 2009 after three years in Saracens' development academy.
The 26-year-old, who has also played for Edinburgh, will join up with Saints ahead of the 2017-18 season.
He told the club website: "Northampton is a massive club that's known the world over and I'm joining a team with a huge amount of talent."
Francis, who has appeared 15 times for the Blues, 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 Premiership.
"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."
Northampton Saints are currently sixth in the Premiership, four points behind fourth-placed Bath.
Director of rugby Jim Mallinder told BBC Radio Northampton: "We've been looking at Piers for quite a long time and we like what we see.
"He is an exciting rugby player, both in attack and defence."
Talking about Francis' move to New Zealand, Mallinder said: "It shows he has got that hunger to want to make it and is not content with people saying to him 'you are not good enough'.
"He's a good player playing in a very good league."