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Manu Tuilagi will start at outside centre for Sale Sharks against Harlequins

Manu Tuilagi will start at outside centre on his debut for Sale on Friday night, while the Cheshire club will also unleash another World Cup-winning Springbok against Harlequins at The Stoop.

In his first appearance for the Sharks, 29-year-old England midfielder Tuilagi will wear No 13 and line up alongside another newcomer, Sam Hill – who has switched to the North West from Exeter. While that alliance will pose a grave threat to the Quins defence, so will the presence of Lood de Jager.

The 45-Test Bok lock was injured in the first half of the World Cup Final last November, as Rassie Erasmus’ side over-powered England in Yokohama to claim the Webb Ellis Cup. 

De Jager had surgery on his damaged shoulder and the recovery period gave way to the coronavirus shut-down, which means he has had a drawn-out wait to play for his new club.

He will join Jean-Luc du Preez in the second row, in a Sale team awash with South African talent, including iconic scrum-half superstar Faf de Klerk. 

As well as the three Du Preez brothers, De Jager and De Klerk will start in a visiting XV also featuring Coenie Oosthuizen and Akker van der Merwe in the front row. 

The Sharks will once again be led by South Africa-born England back-row contender, Jono Ross.

The arrival of Tuilagi from Leicester, where he had played for a decade before failing to agree a new contract, is regarded as an indication of Sale’s status as a genuine threat to Premiership title favourites Exeter. 

Steve Diamond’s team go into the match in second place in the league table, and their enhanced squad depth is highlighted by the presence of Ben Curry and Denny Solomona on the bench. England flanker Tom Curry starts at openside.

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