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Steve Diamond talks up Saracens ahead of meeting with Sale

Published 19/11/2016

Sale Sharks rugby director Steve Diamond has praised Sunday's Aviva Premiership opponents Saracens
Sale Sharks rugby director Steve Diamond has praised Sunday's Aviva Premiership opponents Saracens

Sale Sharks boss Steve Diamond has lavished praise on Aviva Premiership champions Saracens ahead of Sunday's clash at the AJ Bell Stadium.

While Sale are currently pushing strongly for top-four status, Saracens continue to set the standard.

A bonus point victory this weekend would guarantee they retain Premiership top spot, and they are still able to parade a powerful side despite England commitments meaning the likes of Alex Goode, Owen Farrell, Mako and Billy Vunipola are missing this weekend.

"Saracens are the best side in the world," Sale rugby director Diamond said.

"They are well run, well managed, and well coached, plus they look to be a good set of lads.

"They win most of their games, so it will be a tough outing for us. We are a better side than we were last year, but so are they.

"We are playing top opposition, and we usually raise our game for these games."

Centre Sam Tuitupou makes his first start of the season for a Sale side also reinforced by Josh Beaumont, Will Addison and AJ McGinty. Full-back Mike Haley joins Beaumont in returning from England duty, while hooker Rob Webber will make his home debut if he features off the bench.

England squad member Alex Lozowski features at fly-half for Saracens, while Andrew Fenby makes his Premiership debut following two impressive Anglo-Welsh Cup outings. Scrum-half Richard Wigglesworth features against his former club, and a powerful pack contains the likes of Schalk Brits, Kelly Brown and Schalk Burger.

Former England flanker Tom Croft makes his first Premiership appearance of the season after recovering from a back injury when Leicester host Harlequins on Sunday.

Croft's fellow internationals Tom Youngs and Ellis Genge, meanwhile, also feature for the Tigers, with Ed Slater, Mike Fitzgerald and Lachlan McCaffrey back in action and wing Adam Thompstone making his 100th Leicester first team appearance.

Wing Marland Yarde lines up for Quins after being released from England duty, and he appears in a team that includes full-back Aaron Morris making his full Premiership debut. Lock James Horwill skippers the side.

Quins rugby director John Kingston said: "We have won five of our last six matches in all competitions, and so we go into the weekend with good momentum.

"We know Welford Road is an incredibly tough arena to win at, but we are hugely-energised for the challenge that Leicester will undoubtedly present."

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