Sale name strong side to face Saints in cup opener

Chris Ashton will start for Sale against his former club on Saturday
Chris Ashton will start for Sale against his former club on Saturday

Sale Sharks have taken the step of making an early team announcement ahead of Saturday's Premiership Rugby Cup opener against Saints at the AJ Bell Stadium (kick-off 3pm).

And Steve Diamond has named an extremely strong side, which includes the likes of former Saints star Chris Ashton and Denny Solomona, who was joint top scorer in the Gallagher Premiership last season alongside Saints scrum-half Cobus Reinach.

The Sale team squad also includes seven new recruits, with all three du Preez brothers set to make their debuts as permanent Sharks players.

Simon Hammersley and Jake Cooper-Woolley both make the starting line-up and they are joined in the match-day 23 by Akker van der Merwe and new scrum-half Embrose Papier, who are ready to make their debuts off the bench.

Josh Beaumont captains the side in the absence of Jono Ross, who, along with Marland Yarde and Will Cliff are completing the final stages of their rehabilitation following surgery during the summer.

And Sale boss Steve Diamond said: "We have just come off a great warm weather training week in Spain, and the team are edgy, they want to play.

"It’s been a very long pre-season.”

“We are running with virtually no injuries to the first-team squad and everybody has stuck their hand up for selection over the past nine weeks.”

Andrew Jackson has been confirmed as the referee for Saturday's game, with Tim Wigglesworth and Steve Lee his assistants.

Tickets for the match are still available for just £3 from www.eticketing.co.uk/salesharkrugby

Sale Sharks: Hammersley; Solomona, S James, Van Rensburg, Ashton; R du Preez, Warr; Harrison, Webber, Cooper-Woolley; Beaumont (c), Phillips; Jean-Luc du Preez, B Curry, D du Preez.

Replacements: van der Merwe, Rodd, John, Evans, Postlethwaite, Papier, L James, McGuigan