Alex Sanderson has named his side to face Leicester Tigers in round one of the Premiership Rugby Cup as Sale Sharks prepare to start their title defence at Mattioli Woods Welford Road on Saturday.
The Sharks Director of Rugby makes eleven changes to his starting XV as he prepares his side to face the Tigers on the road for the second time in four weeks.
Following an emphatic return to action versus Northampton Saints in the Gallagher Premiership, Sanderson hands Akker van der Merwe the captaincy for Saturday’s clash. The Springbok lines up at hooker and joins Simon McIntyre and Joe Jones in the Sale front row.
Academy graduate Matt Postlethwaite returns to the Sharks starting line-up alongside J.P du Preez at lock, Yorkshire-born Postlewaite takes the place of Jean-Luc du Preez in the second row, with the imposing South African shifting into the back-row this weekend.
Reuban Birch and Sam Dugdale will look to make their mark at flanker this weekend, with the pair starting at open and blindside respectively. Jean-Luc du Preez offers vital experience and a powerful attacking option from number 8.
Gus Warr will look to continue his rich vein of form at scrum-half and is joined by fellow senior academy member Tom Curtis at 10 on Saturday. The young half-back partnership have a familiar back-line outside them, as Sanderson names an almost complete academy backs division to face the Tigers.
Tommy Taylor, Ross Harrsion and Coenie Oosthuizen are all named in an highly experienced replacement front-row, with Ewan Murphy and Jack Hill offering further cover for the forwards. Murphy and Hill are both students at Durham University and have returned from their studies to take part in the Premiership Rugby Cup. Nye Thomas, Kieran Wilkinson and Jack Metcalf cover the backs.