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Premiership Rugby

Sharks up for Welford Road challenge

A Gallagher Premiership Rugby ball

Coach Jim Mallinder who, along with assistant Steve Diamond has been named as England coach for this summer's tours to Canada and Japan, said: "Taking on the reigning European and English champions in their own backyard is a tremendous challenge but we are really looking forward to it.

"Welford Road is a tremendous place to play rugby and, in front of a big crowd, the atmosphere should be fantastic.

"We know that it will be a hard, physical game because there is a lot riding on the outcome for both sides. Tigers have an enviable record at Welford Road but this is probably a game they need to win if they want to be sure of making the play-offs and giving themselves a chance of retaining their title.

"It is equally important for us because we have a very difficult run in to the end of the season with games against title challengers like Gloucester, Northampton and London Wasps lined up after this one."

The absence of the injured Charlie Hodgson is clearly a blow at this stage of the campaign, but Mallinder was keen to emphasise that his side prefers to score tries rather than rely on goal-kicks.

Jos Baxendell will again deputise for Hodgson at fly-half and Stuart Turner will be at tighthead prop in place of Barry Stewart, who injured his hand in the recent game against Leeds Tykes. Also missing will be Alex Sanderson who hasn't recovered from a shoulder injury sustained in England 'A's big win over Scotland 'A' two weeks ago.

Sanderson's place at No.8 will be taken by Phil Davies, who graduated from the club's Under-21 side this season.

Sharks: 15 Jason Robinson, 14 Mark Cueto, 13 Dan Harris, 12 Graeme Bond, 11 Steve Hanley, 10 Jos Baxendell, 9 Bryan Redpath (captain), 8 Phil Davies, 7 Stuart Pinkerton, 6 Pete Anglesea, 5 Chris Jones, 4 Dean Schofield, 3 Stuart Turner, 2 Andy Titterell, 1 Kevin Yates.Replacements: 16 Charl Marais, 17 Jim Thorp, 18 Iain Fullarton, 19 Richard Wilks, 20 Vaughan Going, 21 Anthony Elliott, 22 Nick Walshe.

Kick-off: Sunday, 16.45 GMT

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