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'They are on the radar': The unheralded Sale players England are considering as potential summer tour picks

By Liam Heagney
(Photo by Jan Kruger/Getty Images)

New Sale boss Alex Sanderson is delighted that his inclination to give youth a chance at the Sharks resulted in a visit to Manchester this week by England assistant Matt Proudfoot amid speculation that loosehead Bevan Rodd, tighthead James Harper and scrum-half Raffi Quirke are all possible summer tour picks for Eddie Jones. 


England have July tour matches planned in America against Scotland, the USA and Canada and there is speculation that Jones will select numerous unheralded youngsters while his front-liners are away in South Africa with the Lions. 

Rodd, the 20-year-old loosehead who is also Scottish eligible, made an initial breakthrough at Sale under Steve Diamond but he has really come to the fore in recent months under Sanderson, starting on eight occasions and featuring twice as a sub in the new director of rugby’s ten games so far at the club. 

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Devin Toner guests on RugbyPass All Access talking about freak athlete second rows
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Devin Toner guests on RugbyPass All Access talking about freak athlete second rows

Quirke, another 20-year-old, has also come to prominence under Sanderson, making one start and five sub appearances in recent weeks while prop Harper, also 20, was given a debut off the bench last month. “We have had Proudfoot, the scrum coach, down to have a look at him [Rodd], have a chat so he is on the radar as is Harper, as is Raffi, as is Josh Beaumont,” revealed Sanderson at the Sale media conference ahead of this Saturday’s Champions Cup quarter-final at La Rochelle. 

“They are on the radar, which is really good. It shows the form they are in on the back of some of the performances the team have put in over the last few weeks. It was just last week, he [Proudfoot] just called up last week to see if he could come in (on Tuesday). 

“They have got the tour on the horizon and I’m sure they are just looking at some of these young lads who weren’t on my radar, to be honest, when I came here. I didn’t know too much about Bevan Rodd and Ewan Ashman (Scotland U20s) or Raffi Quirke but stepping in and seeing them train, it’s like, ‘Wow, these boys have got some talent’,” continued Sale boss Sanderson, who joined the Premiership club in January.


“I have rotated them in and I have played them and they have played really well so they have probably moved up the pecking order in terms of England succession plans as well. I can only assume, I don’t know how it works but you play well for your club you get noticed by your country. That is the way it has worked in the past.”

It was June 2019 when 29-year-old Beaumont skippered an England XV against the Barbarians at Twickenham and the uncapped second row is another that has risen to prominence at Sale in recent weeks following a lengthy spell out of the game with a serious injury. “He has led really well. There was a question of would he have played if Lood (de Jager) had been around? This is my point about bringing in people who are really high calibre and you need that in the Champions Cup. 

“He led against Wasps two weeks ago, we got four yellow cards and he brought a team through (to win) which shows exceptional leadership qualities and that is when things aren’t going well for you. Then when things are going well for you, as they did last weekend (at Scarlets), he kept them on it for 80 minutes. Aside from his playing ability he has got good leadership qualities as well. We’ll miss Lood but we are happy to have both.”



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