Sale Sharks open their Guinness Premiership season on Friday evening with a mouth-watering clash against the defending champions, Leicester Tigers.
It’s ten years since the club adopted the Sharks brand, which debuted in a 16-8 victory over Wasps at Heywood Road.
Sale Sharks v Leicester Tigers
Edgeley Park, Stockport.
Friday September 4th at 19:45
That tenth anniversary is celebrated on a night that includes some memorable firsts, including the Premiership head coaching debut of rugby legend, Jason Robinson.
The strong Sharks squad includes debuts for World Cup winning winger, Ben Cohen and Fijian back rower Sisa Koyamaibole, with former academy prop Jack Forster returning after spells with Gloucester (27 apps) and Moseley (18 apps).
“This is probably the toughest challenge we could have expected on the opening night of the new season.”
said, Director of Rugby Kingsley Jones, adding:
“We have got several newcomers in the squad and we are playing a very settled Leicester team. I have a lot of respect for the Tigers and their achievements last season. They are very strong up front and we will need to work hard for the whole 80 minutes tomorrow. We have prepared well this week and the whole squad are looking forward to the game.”
Anthony Allen and Jeremy Staunton will make their league debuts for Leicester Tigers. Allen partners Dan Hipkiss in the centres, whilst Staunton lines up alongside Ben Youngs at half-back.
Off-season captures Billy Twelvetrees and James Grindal (both in their second spells at the club) are named on the eight-man bench (extended this season to include three front-rowers to minimise use of the uncontested scrummaging rules).
Tigers head coach, Richard Cockerill, says his team are ready to go:
“Everybody in the Guinness Premiership will be keen to get off to a good start.
“We have two tough away fixtures to start the season before we get back to Welford Road but you have to take your best game and that is what we intend to do.
“The pre-season work is all done and everyone is very keen to get started. We trust the selected players completely, they are fit and ready to go. We have a good squad, we’ve brought in some new faces this summer and they have settled well, everyone has worked hard, now we want to get back out on the pitch.”
Aaron Mauger, Toby Flood, Sam Vesty, Alesana Tuilagi and Boris Stankovich are unavailable due to injury, while Harry Ellis and Tom Croft sit this game out as part of the rest period agreed for British & Irish Lions players.
Sale Sharks: Nick Macleod, Mark Cueto, Chris Bell, Lee Thomas, Ben Cohen, Charlie Hodgson, Richard Wigglesworth, Eifion Roberts, Marc Jones, Jack Forster, Chris Jones, Dean Schofield (Captain), James Gaskell, Neil Briggs, Sisa Koyamaibole Replacements: Mahonri Schwalger, Rob O’Donnell, Martin Halsall, David Tait, Luke Abrahams, Will Cliff, Mathew Tait, Andy Tuilagi
Leicester Tigers: 15 Geordan Murphy (captain) 14 Matt Smith 13 Dan Hipkiss 12 Anthony Allen 11 Scott Hamilton 10 Jeremy Staunton 9 Ben Youngs 1 Marcos Ayerza 2 George Chuter 3 Martin Castrogiovanni 4 Richard Blaze 5 Louis Deacon 6 Craig Newby 7 Ben Woods 8 Jordan Crane Replacements 16 Mefin Davies 17 Julian White 18 Matt Parr 19 Ben Kay 20 Lewis Moody 21 James Grindal 22 Billy Twelvetrees 23 Johne Murphy