This will be the first meeting between the sides, and a chance for the Borers to mix it with the 2000 European champions. It will also be the first UK encounter for the two coaches, Tony Gilbert and Wayne Smith, who last met in 1999 when Gilbert led Otago Highlanders and Smith led Canterbury Crusaders to the Super 12 final. Shortly after that, the two were appointed co-coaches of the All Blacks.
Gilbert understands that the game represents a big test for his young side, and it is the first of two back-to-back matches against the Zurich Premiership giants, with the return leg just six days later. With World Cup winners Matt Dawson, Steve Thompson, Paul Grayson and Ben Cohen likely to appear for Saints, the Netherdale meeting on 16 January is set to be one of the biggest rugby occasions in Galashiels this season.
"Wayne coaches sides that like to play attractive rugby and these matches represent a huge test but they'll also be a great experience for our boys." Gilbert said.
"Andy Rennick and Nikki Walker had to be withdrawn from last week's team because of flu, but both have recovered and they're likely to be available for selection this week. Tanner Vili, who strained a hamstring in training last week, is recovering and may also be available. And Gary Armstrong came through the Jed-Forest Kelso match with no problems at all. So we could be looking at pretty much a full squad for the game this weekend.
Gilbert will name the team to take on Northampton at The Borders' weekly press conference on Thursday, 8 January, at 10.30am at Netherdale.
The Borders play Northampton Saints on Saturday, 10 January, at Franklin's Gardens, kick off 3pm.