Old Warriors prepare for new battle

Andy Farrell and Jason Robinson are set to oppose each other for the first time in their glittering rugby careers when Guinness Premiership champions Sale Sharks host Saracens on Friday night. [more]

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Andy Farrell and Jason Robinson are set to oppose each other for the first time in their glittering rugby careers when Guinness Premiership champions Sale Sharks host Saracens on Friday night.

The former Wigan rugby league colleagues’ potential clash comes less than a fortnight after Farrell made his union debut.

Farrell is retained on the Saracens bench following a successful 16-minute appearance against Newcastle last weekend, while Robinson captains a Sale side that has reeled off two straight Premiership wins after losing to Leicester earlier this month.

"We wanted to reward the starting XV for their efforts against Newcastle," said Saracens rugby director Alan Gaffney, explaining his decision behind fielding an unchanged team.

"We were pleased with the win against Newcastle, but there are areas we still need to work on and we know a tough test awaits us at Edgeley Park."

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Saracens were the only club to lower Sale’s colours on home soil last term, although they will travel north without French star Thomas Castaignede, who suffered a recurrence of calf muscle trouble in training earlier this week.

Sale can keep in touch with early Premiership pace-setters Wasps and Bristol, who meet at the Memorial Stadium on Sunday, by sinking Saracens, and they are unchanged following a hard-fought win against Worcester last time out.

"Saracens will be buoyed by their big win over Newcastle," said Sharks rugby director Philippe Saint-Andre, who welcomes back a fit-again Sebastien Chabal on the bench.

"From our point of view, we have improved each game since our opening weekend defeat at Leicester, and we are focused on continuing the improvement tomorrow."

Scrum-half Hall Charlton has joined a Newcastle injury list that includes Jonny Wilkinson, Mathew Tait and John Rudd ahead of tomorrow night’s Kingston Park appointment with London Irish.

Charlton hurt his shoulder during the Saracens encounter, but England Under-21 international Lee Dickson will provide scrum-half cover for James Grindal following nine months out recovering from major knee surgery.

Falcons’ former All Blacks centre Mark Mayerhofler returns to midfield alongside Jamie Noon, with summer signing Jason Oakes making his Premiership debut in the second-row and hooker Andy Long replacing Matt Thompson.

Prop Neal Hatley, meanwhile, will break Tony Diprose’s record of 174 Premiership appearances when he runs out in a much-changed Irish side.

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