Sam James will make his 150th Sale appearance as the Sharks travel to Mattioli Woods Welford Road on the hunt of a fourth successive league victory over Leicester Tigers, as Alex Sanderson takes charge of his first fixture since joining the club. The newly appointed Director of Rugby names a strong matchday squad to face the Tigers as the Gallagher Premiership returns on Friday night. (Kick-Off 7:45pm – Live on BT Sport 1 Extra)
Bevan Rodd continues to impress at loosehead prop and makes his 5th consecutive start for Sale alongside Akker van der Merwe and Will-Griff John in the front row. Cobus Wiese heads to the east midlands with a little more at stake than the rest of the squad as he goes toe to toe with his older brother Jasper for the first time in their careers.
The South African lines up alongside fellow countryman JP du Preez in what has become a familiar second row pairing for the Sharks so far this season. Jono Ross captains the side from blindside flanker and joins Sharks’ academy graduates Sam Dugdale and Josh Beaumont in the back row at openside and number 8 respectively.
Faf de Klerk and AJ MacGinty start in their ususal half back roles after a string of impressive performances together in the Gallagher Premiership so far this season. Sam James returns to the centres after a stint at fullback and is joined in an all-English centre pairing by powerhouse Sam Hill.
James’ younger brother Luke makes his first start of 2021 at fullback in an experienced back three alongside Marland Yarde and Byron McGuigan, with the Scotland winger making his first start for the Sharks since picking up a hamstring injury in August last year.
Ahead of his first game in charge of the Sharks, Director of Rugby Alex Sanderson was full of praise towards a rejuvenated Leicester Tigers but believes the squad he has inherited has all the qualities required to win this weekend, He said: “Borths (Steve Borthwick) is getting the Tigers back to where they used to be and they are becoming extremely difficult to beat and without a shadow of a doubt, it’s going to be a physical encounter on Friday. We need to make sure we match the overall intensity that Leicester have been showing over 80 minutes recently, they compete at every opportunity and we need to be prepared for that.”