All eyes on Sale league recruits

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The Independent Online

The Rugby league recruits Jason Robinson and Apollo Perelini will make their Sale debuts in the Tetley's Bitter Cup fourth-round clash against Coventry today. Robinson, especially, is keen to put the hype surrounding his high-profile move from Wigan behind him as he reacquaints himself with rugby's 15-a-side code.

The Rugby league recruits Jason Robinson and Apollo Perelini will make their Sale debuts in the Tetley's Bitter Cup fourth-round clash against Coventry today. Robinson, especially, is keen to put the hype surrounding his high-profile move from Wigan behind him as he reacquaints himself with rugby's 15-a-side code.

The Great Britain and England league wing, who failed to find his feet in union during half a season with Bath in 1996, has signed a five-year Sale contract and replaces England international Steve Hanley on Sale's left flank.

The 26-year-old Robinson, who made 302 appearances for Wigan, scoring 184 tries, said: "I decided to switch codes as it was now or never. If I'm going to do something I wanted to do it while I'm in good form and a good age. I want to give it my all, that is why I have made this decision."

Today's Heywood Road tie will provide a stark contrast to his last appearance on a rugby pitch, when more than 50,000 watched Wigan and St Helens contest the Super League Grand Final at Old Trafford last month.

Perelini also makes the starting line-up, packing down in Sale's back-row alongside Scott Lines and Rob Appleyard. "The back-row was a difficult decision," said Sale's rugby director, Adrian Hadley. "We felt that Apollo was ready, and Pete Anglesea has been playing without a break, so he moves to the bench and Scott Lines keeps his place."

As Robinson and Perelini trained through the incessant rain last week they were quietly joined by one player on the way back. The former Leicester second-row Neil Fletcher has been out of action all season following a knee operation, but he returned for Sale Jets against Orrell in midweek. "It has been a very frustrating few months but the knee feels good and I can't wait to get back into contention," Fletcher said.

Provided Sale win, then Robinson can expect a tougher examination in another home tie - probably against Rotherham - next weekend.

Rotherham include triallist fly-half Luke Smith against National Division Three South side Reading at Holme Park. Canadian international Mike Schmid is fit again after missing the 61-8 European Shield drubbing by Bridgend last weekend, and Rotherham should ease into round five.

Today's other tie sends National League One side London Welsh on a long journey to the Wirral, where New Brighton await them. The carrot for London Welsh is a potential fifth-round clash against their fellow exiles, Zurich Premiership side London Irish.

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