The Blues will be on the lookout for yet another first five next season.

Piers Francis has signed with English Premiership club Northampton Saints and will return to his native England later this year.

Francis played at number 10 against the Crusaders last weekend after starting the season at second-five outside Ihaia West.

The 26-year-old has played 15 matches for the Blues, scoring 56 points, after making his Super Rugby debut. He's also played for Auckland, Waikato and Counties Manukau in the Mitre 10 Cup.

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"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.

Listen: Piers Francis talks to Radio Sport about leaving the Blues

"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.

"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.

"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"