TEAM NEWS – Scarlets v Sale Sharks – Heineken Champions Cup Round of 16

Sale Sharks have named their side to face Scarlets in the last sixteen of the Heineken Champions Cup. Director of Rugby Alex Sanderson makes six changes to his starting XV ahead of the Sharks’ trip to Llanelli as internationals Tom Curry and Faf de Klerk return to feature in the northern hemisphere’s premiere Rugby Union competition.

Sale currently sit third in the Gallagher Premiership after an impressive run of form in the English top-flight this season and the Sharks have named a highly experienced side as they look to transfer their domestic fortunes over to Europe.

Academy graduate Bevan Rodd continues his astronomical rise to success and is named in the Sharks front-row for the fifth consecutive week. He joins Springbok Akker van der Merwe and Llanelli bound Will-Griff John in an abrasive Sale front row. Josh Beaumont returns to action and captains the Sharks in the absence of Jono Ross. Beaumont is joined by Cobus Wiese in the second row for the trip to West Wales.

Jean-Luc and Daniel du Preez remain in their back-row positions at blindside and number 8 respectively and the towering South African twins are joined by the effervescent Tom Curry at openside following his return from England Six Nations camp.

The mercurial half-back partnership of Faf de Klerk and AJ MacGinty are called back to action by Sanderson this weekend as the Sharks look to make their mark on the European stage and the pair have an experienced back division at their disposal. Barnstorming centre Rohan Janse van Rensburg is deployed at 12 following a successful return from injury in round 15 of the Gallagher Premiership.

The South African international is joined in the midfield by the ever-present Sam James who is on hand to provide further distribution options for the Sale backline. Marland Yarde, Byron McGuigan and Simon Hammersley make up a highly experienced back three.

Ahead of the Sharks’ return to Europe this weekend, Director of Rugby Alex Sanderson was pleased his side has been afforded a second chance at progression to the final stages of the Champions Cup, and admitted his side will not be taking the opportunity lightly.

He said: “We’re not going there to make up the numbers and we don’t feel like we’ve won a special competition by getting the ‘wildcard’ in to the last sixteen. We’re going down there with a purpose; we’re going down to do a job and that job is to qualify for the next round of the competition. Sale haven’t been this far in the Heineken Cup for fifteen years so it’s new territory for these boys, but we’ve got some big game players and they know how to step it up in terms of their intensity and physicality, whilst keeping their composure. It’s the closest you get to international rugby, so it’s brilliant for the club and for the north of England. We’re taking the north to Europe. “

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