Round 6 kicks off with a juicy showdown at the AJ Bell as Sale Sharks host the Exiles.
Sale will be riding a wave of confidence after last week’s 26-16 away victory over reigning champs, Leicester Tigers:
Irish will take the pitch with plenty of juice in the legs after enjoying a bye last week. The last time they were in action they powered past Bath at the Gtech Community Stadium:
Sale team news:
England star Raffi Quirke returns to the Sharks’ starting line-up for the first time in six months and Sam Hill makes his first Premiership start this season as Alex Sanderson’s men go in search of a fifth successive league win against London Irish under the Friday night lights at the AJ Bell Stadium (Friday, October 14, 7.45pm KO - live on BT Sport).
Scotland hooker Ewan Ashman also features from the start for the first time this season while Dan du Preez and captain Ben Curry return to action as the Sharks Director of Rugby makes five changes for the round six clash against Declan Kidney’s men in front of the BT Sport cameras.
Academy graduate Ashman packs down between Nick Schonert and England prop Bevan Rodd in a powerful Sharks front row.
In the second row, Jonny Hill lines up alongside Jean-Luc du Preez who switches from the number eight shirt he wore in the win at Premiership champions Leicester in round four.
Twin brother Dan is back in his familiar position at number eight for Friday’s game, and he’s flanked by another set of twins – captain Ben Curry at blindside flanker and brother Tom at openside.
In the half-backs, Raffi Quirke lines up at scrum-half after his electric cameo at Mattioli Woods Welford Road last weekend, and he’s joined by the in-form Rob du Preez at fly-half.
After an injury plagued 2021/22 season, fit-again Sam Hill starts at inside centre and he’s partnered by the ever-present Sam James at 13.
And after an impressive showing against Leicester, the back three is unchanged as Joe Carpenter takes his place in between Tom O’Flaherty and Tom Roebuck.
Akker van der Merwe, Simon McIntyre and Coenie Oosthuizen provide power and front-row experience on the replacements bench, and further forwards cover comes from Josh Beaumont and Jono Ross.
The backs are covered by academy graduates Gus Warr, Tom Curtis, and Arron Reed.
Exiles’ team news:
Declan Kidney has confirmed the squad that is set to travel to Sale Sharks for the Gallagher Premiership Round 6 clash on Friday night (7:45pm kick-off).
The fixture will be shown live on BT Sport after the entertainment last season’s clash between the two sides at the AJ Bell Stadium ended in a 27-27 draw, enticing the cameras to head to Manchester.
Will Goodrick-Clarke, Agustin Creevy and Lovejoy Chawatama are in the front row, with Api Ratuniyarawa and Rob Simmons, who will captain the side, in the second row.
Ben Donnell is named in the six jersey and is joined in the back row by Juan Martin Gonzalez and So’otala Fa’aso’o, with the latter making his first appearance in the London Irish shirt.
Ben White and Paddy Jackson continue their partnership in the halfbacks, with Benhard van Rensburg and Will Joseph combining in the centres.
Ollie Hassell-Collins, Ben Loader and James Stokes are named as the back three.
“Anytime you head to Manchester to take on Sale Sharks at their stadium, you know it will be a good, physical encounter,” said Declan Kidney, Director of Rugby.
“It will be a good test for our squad, and one that we are looking forward to.
“We had a bye week last round, which gave us a good opportunity to rest some bodies, but now we are eager to get back into it, starting tomorrow night.”
- Sale Sharks have retained possession from every single one of their mauls, a 100% ball retention rate.
- At the heart of their unbeaten streak at the start of this season, Robert du Preez is currently the top points-scorer in the Gallagher Premiership, having scored 50 thus far.
- Captaining his side in their round five tussle with Leicester Tigers, Tom Curry made four offloads – the highest total of the round and equal to the highest total in a single game so far this season. He has now scored two tries in three appearances.
- Sharks scrum-half Gus Warr has looked to test the skills of the opposition under the high ball repeatedly this season, sending up a league-high 18 bomb kicks so far.
- The Exiles’ lineout is the most effective in the Premiership, with ball being won from 95% of their throws.
- London Irish have scored the highest number of points per 22 visit in the league. They have scored 150 points and made 36 visits to the 22, for an average of 4.17 points per red zone entry.
- Ben Loader and Ollie Hassell-Collins both scored hat tricks for London Irish in round four. This is the seventh instance of a team scoring two hat tricks in a match and the first since Jonny Hill and Sam Simmonds scored three apiece versus Worcester Warriors in August 2020.
- Henry Arundell is arguably the league’s foremost attacking player. He has made the most metres (454), joint-third most offloads (eight), and joint-second most try assists (four) in his four appearances.
- The last two meetings between these sides have been draws: 27-27 in February and 31-31 in September 2021. Prior to this, the Sharks were on an eight-match winning streak against Irish.
- Sale Sharks have won their last seven Premiership matches and have won ten of their last 12 at home.