Preview: Harlequins v Sale Sharks

Date published: January 6 2017

There are four personnel changes and three positional changes to the Harlequins team that played Worcester Warriors last weekend.

Nick Evans returns to start at fly-half and is selected alongside winger Charlie Walker. Alofa Alofa moves from the wing to start in the centres with Joe Marchant.

In the forwards Will Collier is named at tighthead prop as Dave Ward and James Chisholm combine with Luke Wallace in the back row.

Chris Robshaw, Jamie Roberts and Jack Clifford are unavailable for selection due to injuries picked up last weekend.

Speaking ahead of the match John Kingston, Harlequins Director of Rugby, said: “We have an exceptional home record this season in all competitions and we will be doing our utmost to build on that tomorrow against Sale Sharks.”

Meanwhile, following his side’s defeat to Bristol on New Year’s Day, Sale boss Steve Diamond has recalled Will Addison, who starts at outside centre, partnering Johnny Leota. Addison has been out of action since the Sharks’ narrow defeat to Wasps on November 27.

Bryn Evans and TJ Ioane start in the forward pack, replacing Jonathan Mills and Magnus Lund respectively.  In the backs, Byron McGuigan starts on the wing, with Josh Charnley taking a place on the bench.

Speaking ahead of the game, Diamond said: “We’ve got a game plan that works every week, it’s just the execution of it. Our ability to convert the game plan has been difficult.

“We’re going down there with a plan, which prepares us to win. We know we’ve got to start picking points up, and there’s no better start than having a good training session this week, as we look ahead to Quins.”

Form: Harlequins are one of only three sides with a 100 percent home winning record in Premiership Rugby this season – they have gleaned 25 of their total of 28 league points at home this campaign. ‘Quins only loss at Twickenham Stoop in any tournament since March was 24-62 to Exeter in Round 22 last season. The Sharks have won just once on the road in any tournament this season, 31-13 at Bristol in Round 7 of Premiership Rugby. Sale beat Harlequins 19-10 in Salford in Round 2 and have not achieved a season’s double over the Londoners since 2007-08.

The teams:

Harlequins: 15 Mike Brown, 14 Marland Yarde, 13 Alofa Alofa, 12 Joe Marchant, 11 Charlie Walker, 10 Nick Evans, 9 Danny Care (c), 8 James Chisholm, 7 Dave Ward, 6 Luke Wallace, 5 Charlie Matthews, 4 George Merrick, 3 Will Collier, 2 Rob Buchanan, 1 Joe Marler
Replacements: 16 Joe Gray, 17 Owen Evans, 18 Kyle Sinckler, 19 Stan South, 20 George Naoupu, 21 Karl Dickson, 22 Tim Swiel, 23 Matt Hopper

Sale Sharks: 15 Mike Haley, 14 Denny Solomona, 13 Will Addison, 12 Johnny Leota, 11 Byron McGuigan, 10 Sam James, 9 James Mitchell, 8 Josh Beaumont (c), 7 TJ Ioane, 6 Cameron Neild, 5 Andrei Ostrikov, 4 Bryn Evans, 3 Halani Aulika, 2 Rob Webber, 1 Ross Harrison
Replacements: 16 Neil Briggs, 17 James Flynn, 18 Kieran Longbottom, 19 Jonathan Mills, 20 Ben Curry, 21 Mike Phillips, 22 AJ MacGinty, 23 Josh Charnley

Date: Saturday, January 7
Venue: The Stoop
Kick-off: 15:00 GMT
Referee: JP Doyle
Assistant Referees: Jonathan Healy, Andy Watson
TMO: Geoff Warren