Saint-Andre after getting "back on track"
November 22, 2008
Sale boss Philippe Saint Andre is after a turnaround from his stuttering side © Getty Images
Sale Sharks boss Philippe Saint-Andre takes his team to struggling Wasps tomorrow with the aim of putting a stuttering season "back on track". Sale are striving to avoid a third successive Premiership defeat after winning their first four league games in September.
Last week's surprise home loss against Worcester saw the Sharks drop into sixth spot. Sale's problems, though, are small when compared with champions Wasps, who have lost five league games out of six and will be minus 10 players on international duty this weekend.
The Sharks have also been hit by Test calls, but Scotland flanker Jason White and Wales prop Eifion Roberts are back on domestic duty this weekend, while England's Mathew Tait is among the replacements. Saint-Andre said, "This is a big game for both clubs. "Everyone at the club is disappointed with our current form and the way we lost to Worcester last Friday. We are keen to draw a line under it and get our season back on track as soon as possible."
Wasps director of rugby Ian McGeechan has made six changes following his team's emphatic London derby defeat to Harlequins last weekend. Full-back Mark Van Gisbergen moves into midfield, while there are call-ups for wing Chris Bishay, fly-half Dave Walder and scrum-half Joe Simpson, together with prop Tom French, hooker Raphael Ibanez and back-row forward Dan Leo.
McGeechan said, "Sale are a strong side who are always in the mix, and we know it will be a challenging game on Sunday. They have provided us with some of our most competitive games over the seasons, and it will be key for us to rediscover the consistency shown in our last two home games against Castres and Newport Gwent Dragons."
London Irish head coach Toby Booth retains the side that accounted for Newcastle last weekend when they host Saracens tomorrow. Irish have claimed three successive Premiership victories, hoisting them into the play-off places.
Saracens, meanwhile, were stung at home by Gloucester last time out, and they hand a full debut tomorrow to back-row recruit and South African World Cup winner Wikus van Heerden. Elsewhere, Rodd Penney returns to the wing after shaking off a calf muscle, taking the place of Kevin Sorrell, who moves to the bench.
Saracens rugby director Eddie Jones said, "It's going to be a tough game against Irish, but we will be going there looking to impose our attack and defence. We were disappointed with the performance against Gloucester last week. We've identified the areas in which we need to improve, and I expect us to do just that this weekend."