TEAM NEWS – Stade Toulouse v Sale Sharks

Alex Sanderson says his team are up for the challenge of facing Toulouse as the Sharks Director of Rugby makes three changes to his starting line-up for the Heineken Champions Cup round two clash at the imposing Ernest Wallon Stadium on Sunday (KO 1pm UK time, live on BT Sport).

Sam Hill and Byron McGuigan replace the injured Manu Tuilagi (concussion protocol) and Joe Carpenter (hamstring), while Ben Curry returns to the matchday squad to take his place on the replacements bench along with recent signing Ryan Mills and fit-again Ewan Ashman.

The Sharks pack is unchanged from the 39-0 win against Ulster in round one of the competition. That means Sale line up with Bevan Rodd and Nick Schonert either side of hooker Akker van der Merwe in the front row.

They’re backed up by Cobus Wiese and Jonny Hill in the second-row and Jean-Luc du Preez, Tom Curry and Dan du Preez in the back-row.

Gus Warr and captain Rob du Preez team up again at half-back, while Sam James has a new centre partner in the imposing form of Sam Hill.

Tom O’Flaherty and Arron Reed provide the gas on the wings, and Byron McGuigan replaces the injured Joe Carpenter at full-back.

Scotland hooker Ashman returns to the replacements bench after a shoulder injury and he’ll provide front-row cover along with Si McIntyre and Joe Jones.

Jono Ross and Ben Curry cover the rest of the forwards, while Joe Simpson, Tom Curtis and Ryan Mills are the backs replacements.

Speaking ahead of the game, the Sharks Director of Rugby said his team were relishing the challenge of going up against some of the world’s best.

He said: “They’ve got the best attack and the most offloads in the Top 14 but we’ve got the best defence and the most dominant collisions in the Premiership at the moment. There are loads of fantastic battles all over the pitch.

“It’s a brilliant match-up for us and a chance to test ourselves against the best team in the Top 14, with some of the best players in the world. We want our lads to relish it and love it.

“It’s an exciting challenge. We’re ready and we’re right up for it.”

Sale Sharks Starting XV:

15. Byron McGuigan, 14. Arron Reed, 13. Sam James, 12. Sam Hill, 11. Tom O’Flaherty, 10. Rob Du Preez ©, 9. Gus Warr; 1. Bevan Rodd, 2. Akker Van Der Merwe, 3. Nick Schonert, 4. Cobus Wiese, 5. Jonny Hill, 6. Jean-Luc Du Preez, 7. Tom Curry, 8. Daniel Du Preez


16. Ewan Ashman, 17. Simon McIntyre, 18. Joe Jones, 19. Jono Ross, 20. Ben Curry, 21. Joe Simpson, 22. Tom Curtis, 23. Ryan Mills.

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