Agulla set to face former side Leicester
November 30, 2012
Ben Foden is back for the Saints © Getty Images
Sale Sharks entertain the Northampton Saints on Friday evening in front of the ESPN cameras and the home side will be searching for just their second win in the Aviva Premiership this term.
Sale have this week confirmed the arrival of John Mitchell, who will oversee first-team affairs, but the headlines around Friday night's game revolve around two England internationals who are returning to the Northampton team. Both Ben Foden and Dylan Hartley start for the Saints after missing the past few weeks through injury - a spell on the sidelines which included England's autumn Test programme.
And George Pisi is also named in their starting XV after being away on international duty with Samoa. Along with Hartley's inclusion at hooker, there is just one further change to the pack with Mark Sorensen stepping in for Courtney Lawes who is in the England squad for their match with the All Blacks.
Sale also welcome back a player who has been on Test duty with Scotland's Richie Gray stepping into the second-row in place of Fraser McKenzie. Elsewhere, Andy Powell swaps positions with Richie Vernon while Cameron Shepherd gets the nod at fullback in place of Rob Miller and Johnny Leota starts in the centres instead of Will Addison.
Friday night's other match sees the Worcester Warriors travel to the Stoop to play league-leaders Harlequins. Quins fell to Bath last Friday evening but still sit on top of the Premiership by a point with Saracens second. And Quins have opted to make just three changes ahead of the Warriors match with Seb Stegmann replacing the injured Ugo Monye, while James Johnston and Maurie Fa'asavalu return from international duty with Samoa to start at tight head prop and blindside flanker respectively.
And the Warriors, fresh from their morale-boosting win over Sarries last Friday evening, have included David Lemi, who was turning out for Samoa last weekend, and Alex Grove, who steps in for the injured Joe Carlisle. They have also included Scotland prop Euan Murray on the bench who will make his Worcester debut if he gets the opportunity.
On Saturday, the ESPN cameras will take in Bath's trip to the Leicester Tigers. Both sides welcome back a host of internationals with Bath's line up boasting South Africa's Francois Louw, Wales' Paul James and a familiar face to the Tigers' faithful, former Pumas winger Horacio Agulla. The Tigers have also included some players who were in action over the November Test period with Italy's Martin Castrogiovanni packing down in the front-row alongside Argentina's Marcos Ayerza. And EPS members Thomas Waldrom and Anthony Allen also both get the nod.
Elsewhere on Saturday, London Welsh host London Irish in the battle of the Exiles at the Kassam Stadium in Oxford. Welsh coach Lyn Jones has kept the faith with the same side that obtained a losing bonus point at Northampton last weekend which means that Paulica Ion will line up against the club who loaned him to London Welsh. And for Irish, George Skivington returns to the side and partners Bryn Evans in the second row with Matt Garvey moving to the back row. Jebb Sinclair is named as a replacement after returning from his loan with Western Province in South Africa.
The Exeter Chiefs are also in action on Saturday and they host London Wasps at Sandy Park. Exeter have named an unchanged 23-man squad from the one that beat London Irish last weekend with Tom Hayes skippering the team from the second-row. Wasps have opted to make three changes for the clash with Zak Taulafo, who started for Samoa during the November Tests, getting the nod at loose-head while England's Tom Palmer packs down in the second-row. Italy's Andrea Masi also returns and is named on the bench with Lee Thomas coming in at inside centre in the only change to the backline from last weekend's win over Leicester Tigers.
The weekend's action is completed on Sunday with Gloucester travelling to Vicarage Road to play Saracens. Captain Steve Borthwick will make his 100th appearance for the club while Charlie Hodgson also returns from injury to start the match and Rhys Gill also returns from a rib injury to start in the front row. Chris Wyles starts at full back and Neil de Kock also comes into the team at scrum half. And for Gloucester, with Freddie Burns on international duty with England, Billy Twelvetrees starts at fly-half. Mike Tindall moves from outside to inside centre and will be partnered in the midfield by Tim Molenaar. The only other change to the back line that started against Sale Sharks last weekend sees Martyn Thomas replace Shane Monahan on the left wing. And in the pack, Darren Dawidiuk is back at hooker for his first appearance since late September.
© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.
Ireland have the world sitting up and taking notice - and rugby's structure in Europe will aid their Rugby World Cup bid, writes John Mitchell
Where does Italy's win over Scotland rank among their successes in the Six Nations? Scrum Sevens investigates
The tone was set early on in Dublin as a more clinical Ireland made England pay. All is not lost, however, argues Phil Vickery
Monday Maul takes in retirement talk, England reshuffles, France's unfair advantage and Scotland's communication breakdown