Manu Tuilagi is fit after knee surgery, Tom O’Flaherty makes his first league start and Josh Beaumont returns to the matchday squad for the first time in over a year as Alex Sanderson names his team for the opening Premiership clash of the 2022/23 season against Northampton Saints (KO 7.45pm, Friday, September 9 – live on PRTV).
Tuilagi lines up alongside Sam James in the centre as the Sharks Director of Rugby opts for a mix of power and guile against Phil Dowson’s Saints.
Despite the absence of England man Bevan Rodd, Alex is able to call on a front row full of experience for the season opener with Si McIntyre and Nick Schonert lining up either side of hooker Akker van der Merwe.
With Jonny Hill still unavailable following his exploits with England in the summer, Matt Postlethwaite gets his chance to stake a claim for a regular spot in the second row alongside Cobus Wiese.
And in the back row, captain Ben Curry starts at openside flanker with a double helping of du Preez twins for company. Jean-Luc starts at blindside with twin Daniel at number 8.
Raffi Quirke and new signing George Ford are still recovering from injury, so Gus Warr starts at scrum-half and Robert du Preez takes the ten shirt.
Outside them Tuilagi returns alongside James, with new boy O’Flaherty and Tom Roebuck on the wings. Luke James starts at full-back.
The replacements bench is an exciting mix of youth and experience. Front row cover comes from Tommy Taylor, Ross Harrison and Coenie Oosthuizen and they’re joined by Jono Ross and fans’ favourite Beaumont.
The backs are covered by new signing Joe Simpson, and academy graduates Tom Curtis and Arron Reed.