Sale Sharks look to continue unbeaten run against London Irish: 14:30 kick-off
Josh Beaumont starts for the Sharks after being released by England
The Exiles will be without World Cup winning prop Ben Franks
Sale Sharks welcome back key players for Saturday’s crucial Aviva Premiership clash against London Irish at AJ Bell Stadium.
The home side make three changes with Sam Tuitupou, TJ Ioane and Dave Seymour all returning to the side.
Josh Beaumont also starts after being released by England as the Sharks look to maintain their unbeaten home record, which has stood since April 2015.
Sharks director of rugby Steve Diamond told Premiership Rugby, “London Irish are a side going through a bit of transition, with new coaches.
“But they seem to have got their act together with a couple of good wins against Newcastle Falcons and Northampton Saints and they’ve won games in the European Rugby Challenge Cup, so they’ll be coming confident. We’ve got to carry on the way we’ve been playing.
“We’re not too far off where we want to be, we’ve just got to convert. In the last couple of weeks, Danny (Cipriani) has been on top form with his kicking and directing the team and the forwards have turned up, so if you’ve got those things, you’ve got a good chance of winning.”
Meanwhile, London Irish will be without prop Ben Franks after the All Blacks World Cup winner ruptured his bicep tendon. Franks has undergone surgery on the injury and is expected to be ruled out until the end of April, which could be a major blow to the Exiles survival chances.
Irish head coach Tom Coventry makes in total 11 changes to the side which beat Agen to qualify for the European Challenge Cup quarter-finals last Saturday.
Topsy Ojo, Shane Geraghty, Conor Gilsenan and Luke Narraway are the only survivors from the starting line-up in France.
London Irish assistant coach Glenn Delaney told BBC Radio Berkshire; “Sale are a fairly pragmatic team. They’re fairly direct, you know they’ll come through the front door and you’ve got to be ready for it.
“We’re building ever so nicely over the last few weeks and we’ve got to make sure we’re translating that into our performance and not worrying too much about what they’re going to do.
“We have to keep constantly improving ourselves.”
London Irish are yet to win on the road in Premiership Rugby this season, though they have won each of their last two league outings at the Madejski Stadium
They also arrive in the North West off the back of victory in France, having completed their Challenge Cup pool with a 31-17 win at Agen that saw them reach the quarter-finals
Sale have been beaten just once at the AJ Bell Stadium in the last 12 months.
PLAYERS TO WATCH
Sale Sharks: Josh Beaumont
London Irish: Topsy Ojo
Sale: 15 Mike Haley, 14 Will Addison, 13 Sam James, 12 Sam Tuitupou, 11 Nev Edwards, 10 Danny Cipriani, 9 Peter Stringer, 8 Josh Beaumont 7 David Seymour (c), 6 TJ Ioane, 5 Andrei Ostrikov, 4 Bryn Evans, 3 Brian Mujati, 2 Tommy Taylor, 1 Eifion Lewis-Roberts,
Replacements: 16 Neil Briggs, 17 Ross Harrison, 18 Vadim Cobilas, 19 Jonathan Mills, 20 Cameron Neild, 21 Chris Cusiter, 22 Joe Ford, 23 Tom Arscott.
Irish: 15 Sean Maitland, 14 Topsy Ojo, 13 Ciaran Hearn, 12 Johnny Williams, 11 Aseli Tikoirotuma, 10 Shane Geraghty, 9 Brendan McKibbin, 8 Luke Narraway 7 Conor Gilsenan, 6 Ofisa Treviranus, 5 Will Lloyd, 4 Matt Symons (c), 3 Halani Aulika, 2 David Paice, 1 Tom Court,
Replacements: 16 Gerard Ellis, 17 Johnny Harris, 18 Leo Halavatau, 19 Jebb Sinclair, 20 Rob McCusker, 21 Scott Steele, 22 Theo Brophy Clews, 23 Andrew Fenby
Date: Saturday, January 30
Venue: AJ Bell Stadium
Kick-off: 14:30 GMT
Referee: Gregory Garner
Assistant Referees: Steve Lee, Gareth Copsey
TMO: Keith Lewis