Jersey Reds' preparation for the new season has been very challenging with games against Vannes and Leicester Tigers. However, I honestly feel tonight’s game against Sale Sharks will be our toughest test so far. These games have been exactly what the squad have needed- the coaches and players have gained a lot for our upcoming Championship campaign.
Welcome to all the supporters, players, coaches and management from Sale Sharks and thank you for making the trip over to Jersey. I trust you will have enjoyed your time on the island. The Sharks have a reputation of being a physical team so we know this game will be fast and furious. Good luck for the season and hopefully this game prepares you for a successful Premiership campaign.
Unfortunately the Reds have a fair few players unavailable for selection due to injury.
Guy Thompson and Will Brown should be fit for our first league fixture against London Scottish. TJ Harris and Ryan Hutler are working extremely hard and want to miss as few games as possible. Sam Leeming is also making progress after a solid 40 minutes against Leciester Tigers. Adam Nicol had surgery on Saturday so we wish him well with his recovery.
Although we have a couple of weeks before the season officially kicks off, this game probably marks the end of 'pre-season'. I’d really like to thank the players, strength & conditioning team, medical team and coaches for all their hard work. It has been an outstanding effort by everyone to ensure we are ready for the new season.
Finally I would just like to add how great last Friday night was. It was absolutely fantastic to see everyone enjoying themselves without all the restrictions and thank you so much for all your support. I cannot wait to see the amazing support continue this evening when you cheer on the team.
Enjoy the game and please bang the boards!
PS. Welcome Wayne Barnes. It is great to see a world class referee in Jersey! We would appreciate any 70/30 decisions to go our way…
Sale Sharks, who are making their first visit to Jersey, have been a fixture in the top flight of English rugby since being promoted from Courage League 2 in 1994.
The club’s history dates back to the formation of Sale FC in 1861. While the Sharks nickname became part of the club’s official name in 1998, Sale FC still exists as a successful amateur side and will take their place in National 1 this season.
In 2006 the Sharks finished top of the Premiership and went on to become champions by defeating Leicester Tigers 45-20 in the final. The club have also won the European Challenge Cup twice – in 2002 and 2005 – and most recently lifted the Premiership Cup in 2020.
Since 2012 Sale Sharks have played their home games at the AJ Bell Stadium in Salford.
Last season the Sharks finished third in the final Gallagher Premiership table but were then defeated by second-placed Exeter Chiefs in the semi-final.
The main connections between the current Jersey Reds 1st XV squad and Sale Sharks involve the front row. Props Ciaran Parker and James Flynn both spent time with the Sharks earlier in their career, as did Scrum-half James Mitchell. Head Coach (and former hooker) Rob Webber also spent the final four seasons of his playing career at the AJ Bell before moving to Jersey in 2020.
Meet the opposition
After spending 17 years with Saracens, Alex Sanderson made the return to his first professional club, Sale Sharks, in January 2021 following the departure of the long-serving Steve Diamond.
The 41-year-old started his senior playing career at Sale in 1998, after playing junior rugby at local club Littleborough. He went on to make 90 appearances for the club, and was made club captain, as well as winning five England caps.
Injuries prevented Sanderson having a significant impact as a player after moving to London in 2004, but he was appointed Assistant Coach and played a key part in Saracens winning multiple trophies in the past decade.
Marland Yarde joined Sale Sharks from Harlequins in November 2017. The talented winger is a first-team regular, having scored 27 tries in 64 matches for the Sharks.
The 29-year-old, who was born in St Lucia and moved to England aged nine, made his professional debut for London Irish in 2010 prior to making the move to Harlequins four years later.
Yarde has won 13 England caps, the most recent coming in the win over Argentina in Santa Fe in June 2017, and scored eight test tries.
Since joining Sale Sharks in 2013, Josh Beaumont has racked up more than 100 1st XV appearances, in spite of an enforced absence last year following knee surgery.
Beaumont, 29, began his career with Fylde, where he played alongside his brother Sam, including the club’s visit to Jersey in National 1 for the final game of the 2011/12 season. He also played for Durham University and spent time with the Newcastle Falcons Academy.
Having been voted Players’ Player of the Year at Sale in 2014/15, Beaumont represented England against the Barbarians, but was later denied the opportunity to win a full cap during the 2016 Six Nations as a result of injury.