Alex Sanderson believes tomorrow night’s match with Leicester Tigers will be the first real test of the progress he has made with his Sale Sharks squad since joining the club as Director of Rugby in January.
The Sharks supremo makes eight changes to his starting XV and names a highly experienced side to face the Tigers as the he looks to guide Sale to their first Gallagher Premiership semi-final since 2006.
In an abrasive Sharks front row, rising star Bevan Rodd takes his place at loosehead prop alongside multi-capped Springboks Akker van der Merwe and Coenie Oosthuizen who line up at hooker and tighthead respectively.
Josh Beaumont returns to action following a break last weekend and captains the Sharks from second row alongside Cobus Wiese, who will feature against his older brother Jasper on Friday night.
The devastating combination of Tom Curry, alongside Jean-Luc and Daniel du Preez in the Sale back row will provide plenty of entertainment for Sharks fans as they go toe to toe with a powerful Leicester pack.
Faf de Klerk links back up with AJ MacGinty to form a familiar half-back partnership for tomorrow night’s Premiership Rugby clash, and the pair have plenty of options outside them as Sam Hill, Marland Yarde and Luke James all return to the Sale back line.
Hill lines up at inside centre alongside Sam James at thirteen, whilst the Sharks name Byron McGuigan, Yarde and Luke James in their back three.
Six academy graduates feature on a replacement bench brimming with northern talent as Ross Harrsion, Ewan Ashman, Cameron Neild, Raffi Quirke, Kieran Wilkinson and Connor Doherty all play their part on Friday.
Speaking at his press conference during the week, Alex was full of praise for a much-improved Tigers outfit, he said: “This is a really good test of this group, of where we’re at and how far we’ve come with all the work we’ve done.
“This is the first return game we’ve had since I have been involved with these lads so it will be a great marker for us, against a much-improved side under Steve Borthwick.
“We are under no illusions that although we think we have improved and we want to show that and test ourselves and our progress, it’s going to be a real battle against a really good side so it’s a big challenge for us.”