Team News – Sale Sharks v La Rochelle – Heineken Champions Cup Round 2

Four Internationals return to the Sale Sharks squad and complete a start-studded line-up as Director of Rugby Steve Diamond names his side to face La Rochelle in Round 2 of the Heineken Champions Cup.

World Cup winner Faf de Klerk returns to the starting fifteen, and is set to make his first appearance for Sale since lifting the Webb Ellis Trophy just 20 days ago. The influential Springbok scrum half stars alongside Chris Ashton, Denny Solomona and World Cup finalist Tom Curry this weekend.

Steve Diamond makes nine changes in total to the squad that travelled to Glasgow Warriors in Round One, with Akker van der Merwe and Coenie Oosthuizen returning to start in the front-row after impressing during the Sharks valiant second half efforts at Scotstoun last weekend.

Jean-Luc du Preez and Bryn Evans make up the second row in the absence of Josh Beaumont, after the experienced lock suffered a serious knee injury during the Sharks last Gallagher Premiership match. Josh has already undergone successful surgery this week and has an estimated rehabilitation timescale of four to five months.

Jono Ross makes his first appearance at number 8 after appearing off the bench during the Sharks 13-7 defeat to Glasgow last weekend. The club captain is flanked by Ben and Tom Curry in the twins first appearance together in a starting line up since the penultimate round of the 2018/19 Gallagher Premiership.

They are joined by Europeans Rugby’s all-time top try scorer Chris Ashton on one wing, with returning England international Denny Solomona on the other. Simon Hammersley, who has been an ever-present for Sale since joining from Newcastle Falcons in the summer, remains at fullback.

Commenting ahead of the return of Champions Cup action to the AJ Bell Stadium, Sharks Director of Rugby Steve Diamond said: “It’s fantastic to be back in the Champions Cup at the AJ Bell and after the disappointment of losing the arm wrestle during last weekend’s trip to Glasgow, the lads will be looking to bounce back and perform on Sunday. La Rochelle are a hugely physical team who are well coached by Jono Gibbes, we had a great match with them last year in the Challenge Cup Quarter-Final, so we know what they are about, we just have to make sure we get our basics right and perform this weekend.”

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