Preview: Sale Sharks v London Irish

Date published: November 14 2014

Sean Cox will make his debut for London Irish when they take on Sale Sharks in the Aviva Premiership at the AJ Bell Stadium.

Sean Cox will make his debut for London Irish when they take on Sale Sharks in the Aviva Premiership at the AJ Bell Stadium.

The former Sale man will join captain George Skivington in the second-row after recovering from a hamstring injury.

Tom Court, David Paice and Halani Aulika make up the front-row with Kieran Low, Luke Narraway and Tom Guest in the back-row.

Chris Noakes and Darren Allinson form the half-back pairing with Eoin Griffin and Fergus Mulchrone in the centre. Topsy Ojo, Alex Lewington and Andrew Fenby make up the back-three.

Scott Steele has recovered from an injury sustained whilst playing against Exeter to be named among the replacements along with 18-year-old Academy flanker Ollie Curry.

“The team is looking forward to back to business in the Aviva Premiership this weekend,” said director of rugby Brian Smith.

“Sean Cox comes into the side to make his debut and deserves his chance after his injury issues.

“Sale are a tough team with a good home record so we are well aware of the challenge ahead.

“I’d also like to wish our International players all the best this weekend, especially Blair Cowan who is in the Scotland side to play New Zealand.”

Sale meanwhile have made eight changes to the side that lost to Leicester in the LV= Cup last weekend, with Danny Cipriani among those returning to the starting line-up.

However Sale have just one win in their last five games in all competitions, and director of rugby Steve Diamond wants to instil some fear into the squad.

“What we need in the place is a bit of fear of failure or a fear of being sacked if you like,” Diamond declared.

“If you’re dropped as a sportsman, it’s like being sacked. Not sacked as in losing your job or salary, but if you are dropped as a sportsman it is a bit like being sacked in terms of what it does to your pride and self-esteem.

“And you don’t want to be dropped every week you want to build some consistency as from that your form builds.

“I just think that two or three of our players don’t understand that still and it’s not always the younger players.

“You’ve got to fight like hell to get your position and then when you’ve got it you’ve got to keep it or you get sacked or dropped.

“And that’s why I want the fear factor running through the place. An improvement in form and consistency leads on to things like bigger and better contracts so it’s in everyone’s interest.”

Form: Sale Sharks have won only one of their last five matches in all competitions: 32-29 at home to Wasps in round 1 of the Anglo-Welsh Cup. The Sharks’ only defeat in their last four fixtures at AJ Bell stadium was by the narrowest of margins against Munster in the European Champions Cup on 18th October. London Irish have lost three of their last four fixtures in Aviva Premiership Rugby, the win being 22-19 at Leicester in round 4. The Exiles have won three of their last five away games in all tournaments. Things could not be move even in the last five Aviva Premiership Rugby encounters between the two clubs, with two wins apiece plus a draw. London Irish have not beaten Sale at home since Sharks took their 2010/11 home fixture to the Reebok Stadium in Bolton.

The teams:

Sale Sharks: 15 Mike Haley, 14 Tom Brady, 13 Mark Jennings, 12 Sammy Tuitupou, 11 Tom Arscott, 10 Danny Cipriani, 9 Will Cliff, 8 Josh Beaumont, 7 David Seymour, 6 Dan Braid, 5 Michael Paterson, 4 Jonathan Mills, 3 Vadim Cobilas, 2 Marc Jones, 1 Eifion Lewis-Roberts.
Replacements: 16 Cameron Neild, 17 James Flynn, 18 Ross Harrison, 19 Magnus Lund, 20 Mark Easter, 21 Nathan Fowles, 22 Nick McLeod, 23 Andy Forsyth.

London Irish: 15 Andrew Fenby, 14 Alex Lewington, 13 Fergus Mulchrone, 12 Eoin Griffin, 11 Topsy Ojo, 10 Chris Noakes, 9 Darren Allinson, 8 Tom Guest, 7 Luke Narraway, 6 Kieran Low, 5 Sean Cox, 4 George Skivington (c), 3 Halani Aulika, 2 David Paice, 1 Tom Court.
Replacements:16 Jimmy Stevens, 17 Jamie Hagan, 18 Leo Halavatau, 19 Dave Lyons, 20 Ollie Curry, 21 Scott Steele, 22 Myles Dorrian, 23 James Short.

Date: Saturday, 15 November
Venue: AJ Bell Stadium, Salford
Kick-off: 12:00 GMT
Referee: Matthew Carley
Assistant referees: Gareth Copsey, Ashley Rowden