Aviva Premiership: Sale Sharks v London Irish preview
Last Updated: 20/12/13 6:59pm
South African World Cup-winning tighthead prop CJ van der Linde will make his London Irish debut in the Aviva Premiership clash at Sale Sharks on Friday night.
The Exiles also welcome back Ian Humphreys from injury and he will partner Tomas O'Leary at half-back.
Eamonn Sheridan and Fergus Mulchrone will form the centre partnership with Topsy Ojo, Andrew Fenby and James O'Connor in the back three.
Matt Parr, Jimmy Stevens and Van der Linde will start in the front row with Ian Gough and George Skivington in the second row. Blair Cowan, Jebb Sinclair and Chris Hala'ufia make up the back row.
Irish sit 11th out of 12 in the Premiership, and rugby director Brian Smith admitted clashes with fellow strugglers Gloucester and Worcester after Friday's contest have teed up a pivotal Christmas run.
He said: "We've got some artillery there that we've been holding back for the last two weeks, with good reason.
"These next three league games are massive for us, and I think we're a good enough rugby team to win all three.
"But we've definitely got to step up to the plate. On a Saturday afternoon when the sun's shining you can play the brand of rugby we love to play, and move the ball around.
"But if you go in with the intentions of doing that on a Friday night in Manchester, it simply won't suit the conditions."
For Sale, Danny Cipriani continues at fly-half after his impressive 28-point haul against Oyonnax in the Challenge Cup.
A new second-row pairing sees Jonathan Mills partner Michael Paterson in the engine room.
Prop Eifion Lewis-Roberts will make his 100th Premiership appearance if he joins Friday's fray from the bench.
Former London Welsh captain Mills has challenged eighth-placed Sale to start their Christmas league schedule with a win, especially with trips to Leicester and Newcastle in the festive offing.
"Friday is the start of three crucial Premiership games for us," Mills told the Manchester Evening News.
"And if we can win two out of those three games it will really set the season up for us."
Sale: Miller, Brady, Jennings, Tuitupou, Cueto, Cipriani, Peel; Harrison, Taylor, Cobilas, Mills, Paterson, Braid, Seymour, Gaskell
Replacements: Jones, Lewis-Roberts, Thomas, Kulemin, Ostrikov, Cliff, Ford, Mckenzie
London Irish: O'Connor, Ojo, Mulchrone, Sheridan, Fenby, Humphreys, O'Leary; Parr, Stevens, Van der Linde, Skivington, Gough, Sinclair, Cowan, Hala'ufia
Replacements: Mayhew, Yapp, Halavatau, Rouse, Treviranus, Lewington, Geraghty, Allinson
Fri 24th Apr
Bath0 - 0London Irish
Sat 25th Apr
Sale Sharks0 - 0Harlequins
Gloucester0 - 0Newcastle Falcons
Leicester Tigers0 - 0London Welsh
Northampton0 - 0Saracens
Sun 26th Apr
Wasps0 - 0Exeter
Fri 8th May
Harlequins0 - 0Bath
Sat 9th May
Sale Sharks0 - 0Newcastle Falcons
Gloucester0 - 0London Irish
Northampton0 - 0London Welsh
Wasps0 - 0Leicester Tigers
Sun 10th May
Saracens0 - 0Exeter
Sat 16th May
Bath0 - 0Gloucester
Exeter0 - 0Sale Sharks
Leicester Tigers0 - 0Northampton
London Irish0 - 0Wasps
London Welsh0 - 0Saracens
Newcastle Falcons0 - 0Harlequins
Aviva Premiership 2013/14 Round 10
Newcastle will be aiming to bounce back from four consecutive defeats when they host London Wasps at Kingston Park.
Nigel Davies was relieved at Gloucester's 12-6 win over Worcester while they are continuing talks with Freddie Burns.
Worcester remain bottom of the Aviva Premiership without a win to their name following a 12-6 defeat to Gloucester.
- McCall: Farrell 'fine'
- Booth: More to come from Bath
- Hunter hails 'ugly' win
- Young left to rue late penalty
- Exeter end losing run
- Myler's boot takes down Wasps
- Sarries hunt down Tigers
- Bath too hot for Harlequins
- Saturday's Aviva Prem preview
- Sharks win it up front
- Gloucester v Worcester: Teams
- Festive fancies