Team News – Sale Sharks v Bristol Bears – Gallagher Premiership Round 17

World Cup finalists Tom Curry, Faf De Klerk and Manu Tuilagi to make their return against Bristol as Sale Sharks ready themselves for Saturday’s top four showdown with Bristol at the AJ Bell Stadium – Live on Channel 5 & BT Sport – Kick-off 3:00pm

Steve Diamond makes six changes to the his matchday squad ahead of the Bears’ visit to the AJ Bell on Saturday, as the Sharks Director of Rugby chooses to redeploy his international firepower as the club prepares for its first appearance on free-to-air television this weekend.

After an impeccable performance on Tuesday evening, Ross Harrison remains at loose head prop amidst a number of changes in the forwards. Harrison is joined in the front row by South African hooker Akker van der Merwe and the versatile Coenie Oosthuizen who lines up on his preferred side of the scrum this weekend.

The Sharks’ all Springbok second row partnership of Lood De Jager and Jean-Luc du Preez will return to the starting line-up on Saturday afternoon, Du Preez’s twin brother Daniel returns after dropping out prior to the Wasps match with a bout of sickness. The 25-year-old South African international take’s his place at number 8 is joined in a mouth-watering back row by Ben and Tom Curry at blind and openside respectively. Ben Curry will captain the side again this weekend.

World Cup winning scrumhalf Faf De Klerk moves back into the number nine jersey and will marshal the team alongside AJ MacGinty. The USA Eagles fly-half kicked 15 points in his return to Premiership action on Tuesday after suffering a shoulder injury earlier in March.

Manu Tuilagi takes his place at inside centre with the mercurial Sam James outside him. The highly experienced midfield partnership will combine with Denny Solomona and Marland Yarde on the wings, with 21-year old Luke James holding down his spot at full back following his try scoring performance on Tuesday.

After impressive displays in round sixteen, Curtis Langdon and Valery Morozov join Will-Griff John as front row replacements, with Matt Postlethwaite also remaining in the matchday 23 after a dominant showing at the Ricoh. Club Captain Jono Ross provides cover for a youthful back row.

Will Cliff, Rohan Janse van Rensburg and Arron Reed complete the Sharks’ 23 man squad, leaving potential for Sharks fans to get a glimpse of the highly anticipated Tuilagi-Van Rensburg centre partnership on Saturday afternoon.

Commenting ahead of what could be a season defining match for both sides, Steve Diamond said: “Pat has assembled a brilliant squad at Bristol, and they have showed their quality over the past few games. They are very similar to us on the squad front, they have two strong teams to choose from like ourselves, so whoever it is that makes the trip up to the AJ Bell this weekend, we will be expecting it to be a fierce encounter.  I think if we can keep our discipline levels high and our errors count low as they were on Tuesday night, we should see a fantastic game this weekend. A real top four encounter.”

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