Sale big guns return to get Sharks ‘back on track’ after European Challenge Cup loss

Sale Sharks have bolstered their line-up with first-team players to maintain their 100% home record this season as they welcome Pau in the European Challenge Cup.

Following a disappointing away result against Newport on Sunday, the Sharks will re-enter the AJ Bell fortress as they also prepare for Newcastle in the Premiership the following weekend.

Steve Diamond said his side are determined to get back to winning ways on Saturday so he has named the likes of Tommy Taylor and Mike Haley in his starting 15.

“We’ve lost two games now, so we’ve got to get back on track,” he said.

“Pau are a good side, and we picked up a few injuries at the weekend, so we’ll be putting a strong side out.”

The Sharks side sees multiple changes from last week, with a number of the players expected to be named in the starting line-up for the Newcastle clash.

Chris Cusiter will return after leaving the pitch with concussion against Northampton a few weeks ago and Joe Ford will make his first start of the season to make his case for the number 10 shirt.

With a fresh starting 15 and a loaded bench Sale appear to be taking no chances against the team that they beat in 2005 to lift the Challenge Cup trophy.

Diamond revealed he played with Pau coach Simon Mannix in his days at Sale FC and is impressed with his former teammate’s coaching ability.

“Simon’s done well with his coaching career, and we’ve watched a bit of them and they seem to be throwing the ball around a bit, so it bodes well for a good game,” he said.

“He’s got his stamp on the side through the way they plan, it’s structured and they’ll be a real test for us.”

“We’re building up for this game and for Newcastle Falcons in the Aviva Premiership the week after, so we’ll be putting out a competitive team.

“We’ve got to win our home games in this European group, and we’ll be concentrating all our efforts on that this weekend.”

Viliami Fihaki has promised to carry on his dynamic form that saw the back row heavyweight make 90 metres from just 22 carries against the Dragons.

Fihaki admitted he was pleased with his performance but wished the result could have gone Sharks’ way.

“We had a good run throughout the whole week and we just didn’t put to bed what we had been practising.

“Hopefully this week we can fix it and bounce back with a good performance against Pau.

“I always love playing at the AJ Bell, there is a good buzz when you play in front of your home fans & family so hopefully that will help us on Saturday.”

Sale Sharks: 15. Mike Haley, 14. Tom Brady, 13. Sam James, 12. Mark Jennings, 11. Will Addison, 10. Joe Ford, 9. Chris Cusiter, 1. Ross Harrison, 2. Tommy Taylor, 3. Brian Mujati, 4. Bryn Evans, 5. Andrei Ostrikov, 6. Magnus Lund (capt), 7. TJ Ioane. 8. Viliami Fihaki

Replacements: 16. Cameron Neild, 17. James Flynn. 18. Ciaran Parker, 19. Jonathan Mills, 20. Josh Beaumont, 21. James Mitchell, 22. Tim Jeffers, 23. Nev Edwards

Image courtesy of Sale Sharks via YouTube, with thanks.

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