Sale Sharks centre Manu Tuilagi returns alongside Rohan Janse van Rensburg to make his 100th Premiership appearance against Bath Rugby on Sunday, as Director of Rugby Steve Diamond makes nine changes to the squad that edged Gallagher Premiership Champions Saracens on Wednesday evening.
Thanks to an injury-ravaged career, it has taken the block-busting centre nearly 11 years to make the ton. The vast majority of those appearances coming with Leicester Tigers, but now Sale Sharks are looking to get the best out of a relatively injury-free spell for Tuilagi.
Alongside him Akker van der Merwe returns to the starting line-up for the round 20 clash after suffering a slight ankle strain in round 18. The Springbok is joined in the front row by Valerey Morozov and Will-Griff John after dominant performances from both props at the AJ Bell on Wednesday night.
Matt Postlethwaite keeps his place in the second row in the absence of injured World Cup winner Lood de Jager. The 23-year old academy graduate partners with Springbok Jean-Luc du Preez at lock for Sunday’s contest with Bath.
Jono Ross returns to the starting line-up at blindside flanker, he is joined in the back row by Ben and Tom Curry at openside and number 8 respectively. Club Captain Ross was not involved in the mid-week match vs Saracens, which ended a run of 66 consecutive Gallagher appearances for the Sharks since making his debut for the club in 2017.
The influential combination of Faf de Klerk and AJ MacGinty returns in the half back roles on Sunday, with Steve Diamond opting to deploy his powerhouse centre partnership of Rohan Janse van Rensburg and Manu Tuilagi outside them. Tuilagi will make his 100th Premiership appearance when he takes to the field against Bath tomorrow.
Denny Solomona and Marland Yarde return to the starting line-up after a mid-week rest, The England internationals are joined in the back three by the in-form Luke James, who returns at fullback after a showing some of the best form of his early career since the return of the Gallagher Premiership.
Rob Webber is set to make his first appearance for the Sharks since returning on a short-term contract from his role as Forwards Coach at Jersey Reds. The hooker makes a timely return to face his former club Bath and adds to an experienced bench for Sale this weekend.
Coenie Oosthuizen and Jake Cooper-Woolley offer their talents as front row replacements, whilst the Sharks newest recruit Cobus Weise is named on the bench alongside Springbok Daniel du Preez. Will Cliff, Sam James and Arron Reed provide cover for the backs.
SALE SHARKS STARTING XV:
15. Luke James, 14. Denny Solomona, 13. Manu Tuilagi, 12. Rohan Janse van Rensburg, 11. Marland Yarde, 10. AJ MacGinty, 9. Faf de Klerk; 1. Valerey Morozov, 2. Akker van der Merwe, 3. Will-Griff John, 4. Matt Postlethwaite, 5. Jean-Luc du Preez, 6. Jono Ross (capt) 7. Ben Curry, 8. Tom Curry
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