South African World Cup-winning lock Lood de Jager is set for a Friday night debut off the bench as Sale Sharks begin life without Chris Ashton, the England winger who had his contract torn up on Monday and was signed by Harlequins on Wednesday.

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Steve Diamond has made just two changes to his starting line-up following last weekend’s win at Gloucester. Jake Cooper-Woolley is the sole change in the forwards for Friday’s clash at home to London Irish, the experienced Premiership tighthead trading places with Will-Griff John. 

The only other change to the XV sees Denny Solomona return on the right wing in place of Byron McGuigan, who has been in Six Nations camp this week with Scotland.

New signing de Jager has battled back from two shoulder operations in 2019, the second coming after making a tackle on England No8 Billy Vunipola in the 21st minute of the November World Cup final which South Africa won 32-12 in Yokohama. 

The 27-year-old told RugbyPass earlier this week: “In the last twelve months I have had two shoulder operations, won the World Cup and moved to England, a pretty busy time. There have been lots of ups and downs, a bit of a rollercoaster. Let’s hope the injuries stay away now. I haven’t got another shoulder to injure – just the two.

(Continue reading below…)

England vs Italy postponed

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“It has been worth it and the World Cup win is something I will never forget. They gave me some pretty strong pain killers so I could celebrate the win and the surgery took place after the trophy tour, which was an incredible experience. 

“I’m really excited about playing my first game for Sale… I spoke to Steve a lot before I signed and we all want to achieve something special over the next couple of years.”

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SALE (vs London Irish, Friday)

15. Simon Hammersley, 14. Denny Solomona, 13. Sam James, 12. Luke James, 11. Marland Yarde, 10. Rob du Preez, 9. Will Cliff; 1. Coenie Oosthuizen, 2. Rob Webber, 3. Jake Cooper-Woolley, 4. Bryn Evans, 5. Jean-Luc du Preez, 6. Jono Ross (capt.), 7. Ben Curry, 8. Daniel du Preez. Reps: 16. Curtis Langdon, 17. Ross Harrison, 18. Will-Griff John, 19. James Phillips, 20. Lood de Jager, 21. Faf de Klerk, 22. Tom Curtis, 23. Byron McGuigan.

WATCH: The confusing Mako Vunipola fallout

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