Sale’s director of rugby, Alex Sanderson, believes Raffi Quirke can make an irresistible case for an England recall after the scrum-half’s impressive return from injury in his side’s 26-16 win at Leicester.
Quirke, who earned his first two international caps in last year’s Autumn Nations Series, came off the bench at half-time for his first appearance in six months after a torn hamstring. He quickly set up a try for Tom Curry before scoring one himself as Sale came from behind to make it four league wins out of four this season and move to the top of the Premiership.
Sanderson said: “He was on fire, wasn’t he? He scored tries, he stopped tries, he set up tries – he was a one-man try machine on both sides of the ball.
“I’m chuffed for him. It’s been frustrating for him, the last 12 months, he hasn’t played much for us. He’s got big ambitions, hasn’t he?
“He’s got another couple of games to show what he can do and hopefully get himself into that Autumn internationals squad, but if Eddie [Jones] is watching that, it’s going to be difficult to keep him out.
“The only way you get to play for your country is to play well consistently for your club, so we’ll try to bring it back and simplify it again.
“Because he got a taste of it this time last year, he’s got more than a taste now, he’s got a thirst and he’s super-keen to showcase what he can do.”
Despite tries by Tom Roebuck and Rob du Preez, Sale trailed 16-12 at half-time thanks to Jasper Wiese’s score adding to three Freddie Burns penalties for Leicester. But Sale hit back with two tries in four minutes in the early stages of the second half to inflict Leicester’s first home defeat in the Premiership since June 2021.
Their head coach, Steve Borthwick, said: “It was a pretty hard-fought game for a long time. We had two teams who were pretty well matched for a large part. Probably in the first half we were disappointed we didn’t score more points when we were down there.
“We were disappointed with how easily they scored – to go 16-5 up and then concede immediately was pretty disappointing.
The period of play that was really the difference in the game was after half-time, where immediately they had a couple of chances and took them well.
Leicester are seventh, having played a game or two more than the four sides immediately below them.
Borthwick said: “We had two or three people making their first starts of the season today. We always knew that was going to be the case, with the amount of internationals we had away in the summer, and we’ve just got to work through it and keep improving.”