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Sale keep the faith but La Rochelle make six changes for Saturday's quarter-final

By Sam Smith
(Photo by PA)

Sale boss Alex Sanderson has given the entire starting XV that demolished Scarlets last Sunday in Wales in the Heineken Champions Cup round of 16 a vote of confidence by announcing an unchanged team for this Saturday’s quarter-final in France versus La Rochelle. 

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The Sharks have been disadvantaged by having just a six-day turnaround in between games compared to the eight days afforded to La Rochelle following their win at Gloucester, but Sanderson has placed his faith in his players finding the necessary gas to put it up to their French hosts who have made six changes. 

Those alterations include a recall at full-back for France No15 Brice Dulin while the entire front row of Reda Wardi, Pierre Bourgarit and Uini Atonio is promoted from the bench as is livewire Test back row  Gregory Alldritt and centre Geoffrey Doumayrou. 

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Northampton and Wales out-half Dan Biggar guests on RugbyPass All Access

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Northampton and Wales out-half Dan Biggar guests on RugbyPass All Access

Saturday will only be a second-ever Champions Cup quarter-final appearance for Sale, this latest one coming 15 years after they lost 11-6 to beaten 2006 finalists Biarritz in San Sebastian.  

Quizzed on the limited Sale preparation time this week compared to La Rochelle, Sanderson said: “We prepped well for a few weeks to be able to see it through for this weekend. That is just the necessity and the pragmatism of the week that we have got… we’re in a cup final and I can’t wait.”   

LA ROCHELLE: 15. Brice Dulin; 14. Dillyn Leyds, 13. Geoffrey Doumayrou, 12. Levani Botia, 11. Raymond Rhule; 10. Ihaia West, 9. Tawera Kerr Barlow; 1. Reda Wardi, 2. Pierre Bourgarit, 3. Uini Atonio, 4. Romain Sazy (capt), 5. Will Skelton, 6. Gregory Alldritt, 7. Kevin Gourdon, 8. Victor Vito. Reps: 16. Facundo Bosch, 17. Dany Priso, 18. Arthur Joly, 19. Thomas Lavault, 20. Wiaan Liebenberg, 21. Thomas Berjon, 22. Jules Plisson, 23. Pierre Aguillon.

SALE: 15. Simon Hammersley; 14. Byron McGuigan, 13. Sam James, 12. Rohan Janse van Rensburg, 11. Marland Yarde; 10. AJ MacGinty, 9. Faf de Klerk; 1. Bevan Rodd, 2. Akker van der Merwe, 3. Willgriff John, 4. Jacobus Wiese, 5. Josh Beaumont (capt), 6. Jean-Luc du Preez, 7. Tom Curry, 8. Dan du Preez. Reps: 16. Curtis Langdon, 17. Ross Harrison, 18. Coenie Oosthuizen, 19. J Phillips, 20. Cameron Neild, 21. Raphael Quirke, 22. Robert du Preez, 23. Luke James.

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Shaylen 2 hours ago
Jack Willis' Champions Cup masterclass proves English eligibility rules need a rethink

If France, Wales, England, Scotland and Ireland got together and all changed their eligibility laws in the same way SA has it would be absolutely bonkers. All players from all nations involved in Europe would be fair game as would their coaches. The investment in rugby would be supercharged as teams would rush to create dream teams. Transfer markets would be super charged, salary caps may change, private investment would grow as rich backers first buy clubs and then put money into their clubs in an effort to land the best players. The richest clubs and franchises would benefit most but money and players would move across borders at a steady flow. Suddenly countries like Wales and Scotland would have a much larger pool of players to select from who would be developed and improved in systems belonging to their rivals within superstar squads while their clubs receive large sums in the transfer market. The Six Nations would experience a big boost as the best players become available all the time. The Champions cup would become even more fiercely contested as the dream teams clash. Fan engagement would grow as fans would follow their favourite players creating interest in the game across the continent. Transfer markets and windows would become interesting events in themselves, speculation would drive it and rumours of big transfers and interest in players would spread. All of this is speculation and much of it would not eventuate straight away but just like in football the spread of players and talent would create these conditions over time. The transfer markets in European football is proof of this. Football had the same club vs country debate eons ago and favoured an open system. This has made it the largest game in the world with global interest and big money. Rugby needs to embrace this approach in the long run as well

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Jon 8 hours ago
Waratahs 'counter-culture' limits Wallaby options for Joe Schmidt

This is a bit dramatic for me, I think the Rebels and Force cultures would be very strong, and if a player is chosen from either, you can be confident they are in a good head space and ready. Whether they quite have the technical or tactical foundations of the other two states is where one would way their risk of selection. I see no need for Schmidt to worry about that risk in this squad. The main reason I could see a predominance of players from Brumbies and Reds, is simple cohesion. What might the coaching group make of what’s lacking in the Tahs, and to a lesser extent Rebels and Force’s, franchise? Certainly sides (players) that are running irish plays like we saw from that lovely McDermott long ball with have a head start. I hope the players can continue it at International level. Really liked what I saw of Wright (don’t know player focus and just hadn’t seen a lot of him anyway) in that game, can see him being a glue in a Wallaby side too. A with the similar worry of selecting players like Ryan, I think it unfounded to worry so much about forward balance at the moment. Including both Wright and Skelton in the same lineout is not going to lose you games gainst Wales. Nor will any unknown weakenss Wales might find in Ryan be exploited to any great extent. It is the perfect time to introduce such a young player. What other shortcuts might Schmidt want to make now, just a year out from hosting BIL? When Gamble came on the scene I thought he had a Pocock ability to break game apart along with performing the role of a openside well. I would be very keen to drop Leota/Hooper for Gamble, and in your squad make up, include Uru as a lock. Did you forget to remove Vunivalu from your team? Would you have Meafou in your squad if you could?

114 Go to comments
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