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England outcast George Ford to make first start for Sale Sharks

By Ian Cameron
(Photo by Dan Mullan/The RFU Collection via Getty Images)

England outcast George Ford will make his long-awaited debut for Sale Sharks this weekend in a Premiership Rugby Cup pool clash against Bristol Bears.


Ford, who returned to Leicester in 2017, left Welford Road a second time in 2022 to join the Alex Sanderson-coached side, having previously joined Bath in 2013.

Despite the news that he had signed for Sale coming back in 2021, Ford is yet to play a minute for the club due to injury. The 30-year-old, capped by England on 84 occasions, signed a three-year deal, which kicked off this season but he’s yet to kick a competitive ball in the colours of Sale at the AJ Bell or anywhere else for that matter.

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Ford will make his bow along with Jason Woodward starting for the first time and Springbok prop Coenie Oosthuizen, who is returning from injury.

Ford, who has been out with an achilles injury for 7 months, will start at fly-half, while club veteran Will Cliff is on the bench after his own injury. The Sharks must win by 29 points or more to secure a home semi-final.

The front-row consists of experienced players, including England’s Bevan Rodd and Oosthuizen, with Tommy Taylor. Ben Bamber, Alex Groves, Ewan Murphy, captain Sam Dugdale, and Rouban Birch make up the all-Sharks academy back-row.

Ford will play alongside scrum-half Raffi Quirke, both of whom are England internationals. Sam Hill and Tom Curtis are in the centers, with Elliot Gourlay and Tom Roebuck on the wings and Woodward at full-back.


The bench includes a blend of young and experienced players, with Harry Thompson, Tumy Onasanya, and Joe Jones as front row cover. Dom Barrow and Will Riley will cover the rest of the forwards, and the backs replacements are Cliff, Ryan Mills, and Joe Bedlow.

SALE SHARKS: 15. Jason Woodward, 14. Tom Roebuck, 13. Tom Curtis, 12. Sam Hill, 11. Elliot Gourlay, 10. George Ford, 9. Raffi Quirke; 1. Bevan Rodd, 2. Tommy Taylor, 3. Coenie Oosthuizen, 4. Ben Bamber, 5. Alex Groves, 6. Ewan Murphy, 7. Sam Dugdale ©, 8. Rouban Birch

REPLACEMENTS: 16. Harry Thompson, 17. Tumy Onasanya, 18. Joe Jones, 19. Dom Barrow, 20. Will Riley, 21. Will Cliff, 22. Ryan Mills, 23. Joe Bedlow.


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