An attempt by Rob Webber to solve the short-term injury problems at title-chasing Sale has ended disastrously with the former England hooker needing surgery to repair a broken collar bone suffered in the Premiership loss to Bath.

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Having re-joined Sale on a short-term deal from Jersey where he is now the forwards coach having left Sharks at the end of last season, Webber was injured in an incident last Sunday that also earned him a yellow card just minutes after coming onto the pitch. 

He will now return to the Championship club while Akker van der Merwe, the South African hooker he was meant to be filling in for, has regained full fitness from his foot injury, removing the need for Steve Diamond to seek further cover heading in Monday night’s Premiership Cup final with Harlequins at the AJ Bell Stadium.

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The Rugby Pod reacts to the red-carded tackle that has ruled Saracens’ Owen Farrell out of European action this weekend

Diamond has opted to mix and match his team for the final, starting Manu Tuilagi and Faf de Klerk on the replacements bench against a Harlequins side that registered an impressive victory over Gloucester at Kingsholm. 

The coach has Springbok lock Lood de Jager, who is having shoulder surgery, prop Ross Harrison and Josh Beaumont on the unavailable list as he attempts to win a trophy before they resume their battle to earn a Premiership play-off place.

Diamond said: “I thought I would bring back Rob Webber and he would be a hero – he got a yellow card after being on the pitch after two minutes and broke his collar bone in the incident. “I won’t be bringing anyone else in and Akker is back to full fitness. It’s thank you very much, Rob Webber, with the shortest, most expensive cameo I have ever paid out!

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“I gave the players four days off after Bath and we could be in a better position in the league. Against Bath, we gave the ball away 31 times, gave 14 penalties and 17 turnovers and also decided to play with 14 men for 20 minutes with two yellow cards. There is frustration all over the shop.

“The team that won four out of five games was a combination of the whole squad and everyone wants to play in the final. We have to be pushing in the top four every year and anything other than that would be disappointing. 

“The Premiership Cup has meaning this year and we have won all our games. It would be rude not to respect the competition and we will be having a crack at it. Harlequins put in a great performance at Gloucester and are a very good side.”

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