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Manu Tuilagi starts as title contenders collide
Sunday, 06 June 2021 - 10:23 | Views - 11

Sale Sharks director of rugby Alex Sanderson includes Manu Tuilagi from the start as he makes nine changes to his squad for their game against Harlequins.

Following an emphatic victory over table-topping Bristol Bears last weekend, Will-Griff John, Jono Ross and Rohan Janse van Rensburg also return to action after injury at the AJ Bell Stadium on Friday.

Club stalwart Ross Harrison takes his place in the Sharks starting line-up at loosehead prop, joining Akker van der Merwe and Coenie Oosthuizen in a highly experienced front-row, while Josh Beaumont returns to the second-row alongside Jean-Luc du Preez.

The powerful Springbok back-row remains at lock following a man of the match performance against Bristol.

Cameron Neild replaces Tom Curry at blindside flanker as the British and Irish Lion is rotated ahead of the Sharks’ first play-off appearance in 15 years. Neild joins Ben Curry and the imposing Daniel du Preez in the Sale back-row.

Faf de Klerk and AJ MacGinty will conduct the Sharks backline from half-back as their partnership continues at the business end of the season.

The pair have the power of Manu Tuilagi complimented by the skillset of Sam James at their disposal in midfield and a back three which includes former Harlequin Marland Yarde, the in-form Byron McGuigan and full-back Simon Hammersley.

Harlequins stars rested

Meanwhile, Quins’ coaching contingent has opted to ring the changes this weekend with 10 alterations to the side that claimed a high-scoring win in front of Quins’ fans in South West London last weekend.

Club captain Stephan Lewies, back-row Tom Lawday, fly-half James Lang, centre Joe Marchant and full-back Tyrone Green are the only players to retain their starting slots.

Openside Luke Wallace starts for Harlequins for the first time since 2019 having rejoined the club from league rivals Leicester Tigers last weekend and is set to add to his 169 appearances in the Quarters between 2009 and 2019.

Also amongst the changes, England U20 man Oscar Beard is set to make his debut on the wing, joining Green and Aaron Morris to form the back three.

Quins also welcome back Scott Steele and Louis Lynagh from spells sidelined through injury to take up spots amongst the replacements in the 21 and 23 jerseys respectively.

Also returning to fitness this week after overcoming an Achilles injury is tighthead prop Craig Trenier, who will add further depth to the three jersey for the end of season run-in.

Form: Sale Sharks have lost just once in the last 10 rounds of Premiership Rugby: 14-17 at Northampton on 13 March. Consequently, Sale have qualified for the semi-finals for the first time since 2006. The Sharks have won their last six matches at AJ Bell Stadium in the Premiership since Bath beat them there in Round 9. Harlequins have reached the play-offs for the first time in seven years and have lost just once in their last five league fixtures: 29-35 at Leicester on 15 May. Quins have won only one of their last five away games in Premiership Rugby: 25-21 at London Irish in Round 17. Harlequins beat Sale 24-12 at the Twickenham Stoop in Round 10 and have not achieved a Premiership double over Sale since 2013/14. Harlequins have lost on their last six visits to AJ Bell Stadium in all competitions since their 25-23 victory there in Premiership Rugby in April 2015.

The teams:

Sale: 15 Simon Hammersley, 14 Byron McGuigan, 13 Sam James, 12 Manu Tuilagi, 11 Marland Yarde, 10 AJ MacGinty, 9 Faf de Klerk, 8 Daniel du Preez, 7 Ben Curry, 6 Cameron Neild, 5 Jean-Luc du Preez, 4 Josh Beaumont (c), 3 Coenie Oosthuizen, 2 Akker van der Merwe, 1 Ross Harrison
Replacements: 16 Curtis Langdon, 17 Bevan Rodd, 18 Will-Griff John, 19 Jean-Pierre du Preez, 20 Jono Ross, 21 Will Cliff, 22 Robert du Preez, 23 Rohan Janse van Rensburg

Harlequins: 15 Tyrone Green, 14 Aaron Morris, 13 Joe Marchant, 12 Ben Tapuai, 11 Oscar Beard, 10 James Lang, 9 Martin Landajo, 8 Tom Lawday, 7 Luke Wallace, 6 Archie White, 5 Stephan Lewies, 4 Dino Lamb, 3 Will Collier, 2 Joe Gray, 1 Santiago Garcia Botta
Replacements: 16 Elia Elia, 17 Fin Baxter, 18 Simon Kerrod, 19 Tevita Cavubati, 20 Hugh Tizard, 21 Scott Steele, 22 Will Edwards, 23 Louis Lynagh


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