TEAM NEWS | Sale Sharks v Bristol Bears

Sam James makes his 200th Sharks appearance, Cobus Wiese and Akker van der Merwe return from injury and Rouban Birch and Kieran Wilkinson are rewarded for their cup heroics with places on the replacements bench for the Saturday lunchtime Premiership clash with Bristol Bears (KO 1pm – live on BT Sport).

Jean-Luc and Dan du Preez also return to the Sharks line-up after featuring for South Africa A, while Jono Ross captains the side for the round 11 showdown with Pat Lam’s men.

Springbok hooker Van der Merwe returns to the number two shirt after six weeks out with an ankle injury picked up against London Irish in October, and he takes his place in the front row between the experienced pair of Ross Harrison and Nick Schonert.

Wiese also returns from ankle lay-off to partner Josh Beaumont in the second row, while the Du Preez twins line-up alongside skipper Ross in the back row.

Gus Warr lines up again at scrum-half alongside fly-half Rob du Preez, and in the centres, Sam Hill starts with the ever-present Sam James, who plays his 200th game for his boyhood club.

Tom Roebuck and Byron McGuigan start on the wings, with full-back Joe Carpenter making up a pacy back three.

Academy products Tommy Taylor and fit-again Simon McIntyre provide front-row cover on the bench, along with Joe Jones, who will be playing his 50th Sharks game if he takes the field.

Sam Dugdale and Friday night’s Premiership Rugby Cup player of the match Birch cover the rest of the forwards.

Joe Simpson, Wilkinson and Arron Reed are the backs replacements.

Sale Sharks Starting XV:

15. Joe Carpenter, 14. Tom Roebuck, 13. Sam James, 12. Sam Hill, 11. Byron McGuigan, 10. Robert du Preez, 9. Gus Warr; 1. Ross Harrison, 2. Akker van der Merwe, 3. Nick Schonert, 4. Cobus Wiese, 5. Josh Beaumont, 6. JL du Preez, 7. Jono Ross ©, 8. Daniel du Preez

Replacements:

16. Tommy Taylor, 17. Simon McIntyre, 18. Joe Jones, 19. Rouban Birch, 20. Sam Dugdale, 21. Joe Simpson, 22. Kieran Wilkinson, 23. Arron Reed.

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