Preview: Sale v Wasps

Date published: December 31 2015

Sale Sharks start 2016 with a visit from Wasps in the Premiership at the AJ Bell Stadium, with Steve Diamond making two changes to his XV.

The tweaks come after losing to Exeter Chiefs on Boxing Day.

David Seymour and Chris Cusiter come into the starting fifteen, replacing TJ Ioane and Peter Stringer respectively.

"Wasps are coming with a lot of gusto coming out of the Champions Cup and there is not much between us in the league, it's going to be a great game," said boss Diamond.

"We've got to have a good crack at it and get ourselves the four points on offer."

Meanwhile, Wasps director of rugby Dai Young is boosted by the return to fitness of George Smith and Ben Jacobs ahead of their trip to Salford this weekend, with both players named to start.

The other two changes to the starting side see Joe Simpson start at scrum-half and Sam Jones at number eight.

"We were all disappointed not to get anything from last weekend's game," said Young.

"Having looked back at the match we were happy with how we played in the most part but there were small mistakes that allowed Saracens to pull clear and we will take what we have learnt from that going forward.

"This weekend is another big challenge. Our record up there isn't brilliant, so we know how tough a prospect it is that faces us. They are a very rugged side, who will fight for everything and we have to match that physicality first and foremost.

"The next couple of weeks are big for us in terms of our season. Going into the new year we want to be putting our best foot forward and we need to firing on all fronts as we hit the middle stages of the campaign."

Form: Sale Sharks are without a win in their last four Premiership rugby fixtures since beating Northampton 20-13 at AJ Bell Stadium in round 3. Sale are unbeaten at home in any tournament since Harlequins were victorious in Salford last April. Wasps have won just one of their last four fixtures in all competitions: 36-10 over Bath at the Recreation Ground in the European Champions Cup on 19th December. Wasps have won their last three away games at Leinster, London Irish and Bath. The last time the two clubs met Wasps won 41-16 at the Ricoh Arena almost exactly 12 months ago to end a six game winning run by the Sharks against Wasps in all competitions. Wasps have lost on all four previous visits to AJ Bell Stadium, whilst their only victory on Sale soil since March 2005 was by a single point in 49 at Edgeley Park in Aviva Premiership Rugby in October 2010.

The teams:

Sale: 15 Mike Haley, 14 Tom Arscott, 13 Sam James, 12 Sam Tuitupou, 11 Will Addison, 10 Danny Cipriani, 9 Chris Cusiter, 8 Josh Beaumont, 7 David Seymour, 6 Dan Braid (c), 5 Jonathan Mills, 4 Bryn Evans, 3 Vadim Cobilas, 2 Tommy Taylor, 1 Ross Harrison.
Replacements: 16 Cameron Neild, 17 Eifion Lewis-Roberts, 18 Brian Mujati, 19 Andrei Ostrikov, 20 Mark Easter, 21 Peter Stringer, 22 Joe Ford, 23 Mark Jennings.

Wasps: 15 Rob Miller, 14 Frank Halai, 13 Elliot Daly, 12 Ben Jacobs, 11 Charles Piutau, 10 Jimmy Gopperth, 9 Joe Simpson, 8 Sam Jones, 7 George Smith, 6 James Haskell (c), 5 James Gaskell, 4 Joe Launchbury, 3 Lorenzo Cittadini, 2 Ashley Johnson, 1 Matt Mullan.
Replacements: 16 Edd Shervington, 17 Simon McIntyre, 18 Phil Swainston, 19 Kearnan Myall, 20 Thomas Young, 21 Dan Robson, 22 Ruaridh Jackson, 23 Sailosi Tagicakibau.

Date: Saturday, January 2
Venue: AJ Bell Stadium
Kick-off: 17:30 GMT
Referee: Luke Pearce
Assistant Referees: Peter Allan, Greg Macdonald
TMO: Trevor Fisher