Sale Sharks take on Munster in the European Rugby Champions Cup on Saturday at the AJ Bell Stadium, kick off 1pm.
Our focus today will look at the key battles in the forwards. The pack of Munster is full of internationals and will be looking to make a big impact in the game. In the second row, the Irish province has the experience and physicality of Ireland captain Paul O'Connell and Donncha O'Callaghan.
O'Connell has made over 100 test appearances in international rugby, 94 for Ireland and 7 for the Lions. He has started the season in good form for Munster and will be looking to carry that on in the European Rugby Champions Cup, which he has previous winners' medals in its previous format. He has been at Munster since 2001, and has played 179 times for the province. The 34-year old has signed a new deal in January to play on for Munster until June 2016.
Donncha joined his second-row partner in signing a new deal at Munster which runs out in June 2016 as well. Munster's most capped forward had a good summer as he appeared for the Barbarians, beating England at Twickenham. He has got a plethora of winner's medals in his career, having won the Pro 14 Final in 2008-09& 2010-11, the Heineken Cup in 2005-06 & 2007-08 plus Six Nations. His experience is invaluable to the young players in the squad and proves to be a talisman in their forwards. Their potential battle against Michael Paterson and Jonathan Mills is probably going to prove to be crucial and will be very interesting to watch.
In the back-row, Peter O'Mahony, the Munster captain, will probably start at flanker. He has been out injured since Munster's European Quarter Final in April against Toulouse and he had reconstructive shoulder surgery. While rehabilitating, he also underwent keyhole surgery on his right shoulder, using his time on the side-lines to repair an ongoing issue. He made his first appearance for the first team at The Aviva Stadium when Munster beat Leinster and he came off the bench for the last 20 minutes. He will be up against Magnus Lund and David Seymour, who both know what needs to be done to win the match in the back-row.
In the front row, BJ Botha will be looking to make an impact against our front row. The tight-head prop signed from rivals Ulster in 2011 and he has gone from strength to strength. He played Super 14 with the Sharks and was capped 26 times by South Africa after making his debut against the All Blacks in Pretoria in 2006. He last played for the Springboks against Australia in the Tri Nations game played in Brisbane in July 2010. He potentially will be up against Ross Harrison, which should make for a good battle.
THE GAME AGAINST MUNSTER IS ON SATURDAY 18TH OCTOBER KICK OFF 1PM. TICKETS ARE AVAILBLE AND CAN BE BOOKED BY PHONING 08444-994-994. IF YOU REQUIRE A CALL BACK PLEASE EMAIL YOUR NAME AND NUMBER TOinfo@salesharks.com
Over the next few days we will be previewing the huge head-to-head battles in this Saturday's Aviva Premiership game against Exeter Chiefs. First up we are going to look at the battle at scrum half between Chris Cusiter and Will Chudley.
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AJ Bell Stadium, Stadium Way, Eccles
Manchester M30 7WH