TEAM NEWS | Bath Rugby v Sale Sharks

Sharks’ Six Nations stars return to club rugby this weekend as Alex Sanderson names Manu Tuilagi, George Ford, Luke Cowan-Dickie, Tom Roebuck and Arron Reed in his starting XV to face Bath at the Rec on Sunday (KO 3pm, live on TNT Sports).  

Elsewhere, Bevan Rodd makes his first Premiership start of 2024 after recovering from a toe injury, and, after making his Sharks bow in last week’s friendly against Northampton, new signing Hyron Andrews features in a Premiership matchday squad for the first time. 

Alex has picked a front-row packed with youth and experience to face Bath, with academy products Rodd and James Harper packing down either side of the returning Cowan-Dickie. 

In the second-row, Cobus Wiese is fit again to start alongside club stalwart Josh Beaumont, while in the back-row Ernst van Rhyn and Sam Dugdale team up with JL du Preez at number 8. 

Gus Warr starts alongside England’s Six Nations fly-half George Ford, with Tuilagi and captain Rob du Preez outside them in the centres. 

Reed, Roebuck and Joe Carpenter make up the rest of the Sharks DoR’s XV. 

On the replacements bench, another injury returnee, Si McIntyre, joins hooker Tommy Taylor and Asher Opoku-Fordjour, who starred for England’s U20s side in the Six Nations. 

Ben Bamber and Andrews make up the rest of the forwards replacements, while Raffi Quirke, Sam James and Tom O’Flaherty will cover the backs. 

Sale Sharks Starting XV:   

15. Joe Carpenter, 14. Tom Roebuck 13. Rob du Preez ©, 12. Manu Tuilagi, 11. Arron Reed, 10. George Ford, 9. Gus Warr, 1. Bevan Rodd, 2. Luke Cowan-Dickie, 3. James Harper, 4. Cobus Wiese, 5. Josh Beaumont, 6. Ernst van Rhyn, 7. Sam Dugdale, 8. JL du Preez.   

Replacements:   

16. Tommy Taylor, 17. Si McIntyre, 18. Asher Opoku-Fordjour, 19. Ben Bamber, 20. Hyron Andrews, 21. Raffi Quirke, 22. Sam James, 23. Tom O’Flaherty. 

  • Arron Reed has made the second-most clean breaks in the Premiership this season (15). 
  • Ernst van Rhyn has appeared in every round of the Premiership and has made both the most successful tackles (183) and the most dominant tackles (17). 
  • Gus Warr has made more kicks in play than any other player (150). A league-high 22 of these have been retained. 
  • 45.4% of Sale’s carries this season have been made outside of the 15-metre lines – more than any other team. 
  • Sharks are unbeaten in their last six clashes with Bath since Bath’s 27-22 victory at Salford in February 2021. 
  • Sharks have lost on just one of their last five visits to the Rec: 14-16 in December 2019.  

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