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What Sale make of Manu the winger and having 4 picks in England 23

By Liam Heagney
(Photo by Visionhaus/Getty Images)

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Sale have hailed the decision by Eddie Jones to include four of their players in their England matchday 23 to face the Wallabies this Saturday, adding that they have no fears about midfield regular Manu Tuilagi getting selected for only his second ever start on the wing for his country. Tuilagi is joined in the squad to take on Australia by No8 Tom Curry and uncapped replacements Bevan Rodd and Raffi Quirke.

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It is a four-strong representation only matched by Saracens, with Leicester, Exeter and Bath having three representatives each for the second game in the Autumn Nations Series. Harlequins have two players included with the squad also having a player each from Gloucester, Bristol, Northampton and Newcastle.

Just one of the previous 38 England starts for Tuilagi has come on the wing, a June 2014 selection in the No14 jersey for a match in Dunedin versus the All Blacks. More than seven years later, though, the 30-year-old has now been selected instead of Adam Radwan to start on the right wing as the isolation-free Owen Farrell has returned to take the No12 position that Tuilagi occupied last weekend versus Tonga.

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Sale boss Alex Sanderson will make sure he is glued to the TV for the Saturday evening England match that will kick off shortly after the conclusion of the Sharks’ Premiership Cup game at Leicester, the club where Tuilagi first forged his reputation as a powerhouse midfielder. Sanderson has no fears over his player’s novel Test match reposition.

“It [right wing] is only something new off first phase, isn’t it, because after two or three phases the ball comes to that wide channel anyway and then it is just runners, dummy runners, out-the-back runners. Nothing changes there. I guess it is defensively where he is at, his backfield management which might be different and that is important in the kicking game.

“But he is a smart player, he has been around the block, his communications are good so if anyone can make that transition it is going to be a senior player of his experience… He is good (under the high ball). He is strong, confident, fearless. It is the people who take the eye off the ball that tend to miss it but he ain’t going to that. I am really excited, I am really interested to see how it is going to go. Who knows, he might be playing on the wing at some point for Sale in the future if it works out.

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“Manu has gazillions of caps and I don’t think he cares where he gets them. I am sure it isn’t a case of Manu is going to stay on the wing. There is going to be some Eddie Jones-style tactics that are going to incorporate him as a leader, as a strong runner or even a dummy runner. They will use him smartly, particularly with the distributors they have got at ten, twelve and 13. That is going to be quite exciting to watch.”

Sanderson has long been effusive in his praise of what Curry brings to a match, but his excitement about England taking on the Wallabies has been greatly added to by the inclusion of uncapped Sale pair Rodd, 21, and Quirke, 20, on the bench. “The other two I am made up about, so happy for them,” enthused the Sharks boss.

“It is another sign of what we are trying to build here. We have got young lads who are playing out of their skin and knocking on the door for England. That is the type of club we want to be, people with ambitions who want to be here, who are northern, and I can’t wait to see them get a cap. I just hope and pray no one gets injured and they get on through merit.

“We [Sale] want to step out. We want to move forward, show intent, make it a place where people can develop and come on and not just be Premiership players but be international players. It’s a real sign of the exciting prospects. They are just two of the players I feel have the potential to make international honours moving forward.

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“We have other good youngsters who haven’t had the opportunity yet. It is huge for the club but it is bigger for them. We talk within these walls about being a club that is focused and has holistic care around the person before the player and when people are generally happy and content and they are getting support, they tend to play their best rugby.”

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