Francis finally getting traction in England

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    10 Feb 2018     Getty Images

His first game back last weekend saw the side qualify for the Anglo-Welsh Cup semifinals, by beating Harlequins. That ended a 10-losing game streak for Francis since joining the side.

Unfortunately, the negative record took another knock in the Premiership game on Friday which resulted in a 9-32 loss to Bath, all of Northampton's points coming from Francis' goal-kicking boot.

Francis has played four Tests since heading home last year.

He reflected on his New Zealand experience with

His first taste of Investec Super Rugby was when he was part of the Chiefs' wider training group in 2012. He never played but he got an insight into what it took to succeed at that level because the Chiefs went on to win their first Super Rugby title.

Returning to England had always been his goal, and his early call up to Edinburgh, while brief, had been good for him, although New Zealand was to be his next port of call again returning to play for Counties Manukau and winning a call-up by the Blues.

"I massively enjoyed my time in Auckland with the Blues, a great bunch of lads, a great franchise and great coaches. It was a tough place to leave," he told

It had been a 'crazy' year when getting an international call-up while still playing in New Zealand and going to Argentina.

Francis recounted learning of his England selection. It was at 5am and the only reason he was up was that he was taking his girlfriend to the airport and a UK number came through on the car [phone].

"I nearly didn't answer it because I thought it might have been one of the boys after a big night giving me a bit of a buzz.

"There was a distinct Australian voice talking down the phone to me and claimed he was Eddie Jones. I wasn't sure it was. I had heard his name on the TV and radio a bit and he asked if I wanted to play for England.

"I said I did, but inside I was thinking, 'Of course I want to play for England, it's my career goal'. I put the phone down, it was all very surreal and I looked at my girlfriend and said, 'Was that who I thought it was?' But it was confirmed later that day that it was. Now it was a cool phone call," he said.

Francis got to make a start in Argentina with England in June and scored a try in the second Test. He has since joined up with Northampton Saints although his start with the club has been injury-plagued.

"It's not been the smoothest of starts with Saints.

"But it's great to be back now having broken my jaw early doors and then coming back and having concussion problems over the last five or six weeks – I was itching to get back playing.

"Obviously, we were making sure that I was right to play without rushing anything. We've gone to lengths to make sure I'd gone through all the protocols and seen specialists. But I feel like I'm ready to play," he said.