George Ford and Raffi Quirke return to the Sharks starting XV while Dan du Preez is named as a replacement after missing the last ten matches, as Alex Sanderson makes two changes to his side to face in-form London Irish at the Gtech Community Stadium on Sunday (KO 1pm, live on PRTV).
Ford’s return from England duty means Rob du Preez shifts to outside centre while Quirke replaces Gus Warr, who had started the last ten Premiership games.
After beating Saracens in front of a full house at the AJ Bell Stadium, the Sharks Director of Rugby has picked an unchanged pack for the crucial clash with Declan Kidney’s men.
That means Bevan Rodd and Coenie Oosthuizen will line up either side of Ewan Ashman once again in the front-row.
Cobus Wiese and Jonny Hill continue their formidable partnership in the second-row and with Ben Curry still on England duty, in-form Sam Dugdale retains his starting spot at openside flanker alongside Jono Ross and Jean-Luc du Preez.
It’s all change at half-back with Ford returning from England duty to partner scrum-half Quirke.
Ryan Mills retains his starting spot at 12 and he’ll partner Rob du Preez in the centres.
And in an unchanged back three, Tom Roebuck will line up alongside Tom O’Flaherty and Joe Carpenter, who made six line breaks against Sarries. That was the most by a single player in a Premiership match this season and the most by a Sharks player since Opta began recording stats in 2008.
Tommy Taylor, Nick Schonert and Simon McIntyre make up the front row replacements, while Dan du Preez and Josh Beaumont cover the rest of the forwards.
Luke James, Warr and Arron Reed are the backs replacements.
Speaking ahead of the game, Alex said he’s expecting another big test against London Irish after last week’s nailbiter against his former club.
He said: “Irish are just a really good team. They’ve won five of their last six and they probably should have won the other one too. They’re dangerous when teams get loose and ragged in terms of their defensive shape.
“We’ll have to work hard in defence so we don’t give them anything in the wide channels.”
Sale Sharks starting XV:
15. Joe Carpenter, 14. Tom Roebuck, 13. Rob du Preez, 12. Ryan Mills, 10. George Ford, 9. Raffi Quirke; 1. Bevan Rodd, 2. Ewan Ashman, 3. Coenie Oosthuizen, 4. Cobus Wiese, 5. Jonny Hill, 6. Jono Ross ©, 7. Sam Dugdale, 8. Jean-Luc du Preez.
16. Tommy Taylor, 17. Simon McIntyre, 18. Nick Schonert, 19. Josh Beaumont, 20. Dan du Preez, 21. Gus Warr, 22. Luke James, 23. Arron Reed.
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