Alex Sanderson takes his new Sale side to Ashton Gate on Friday warning that Bristol have the best back line in world club rugby.
Bristol top the Gallagher Premiership after six straight wins and the Bears scored seven tries last week to demolish neighbours Bath 48-3.
Sale director of rugby Sanderson said: “Bristol are an amazingly dangerous team if you give them time and space.
“They probably have the best club rugby back line in the world at the moment and they have the ability to throw a lightning bolt at you at any time.
“We have to be mentally prepared for all outcomes and be able to overcome them.
“We’re going up against the top of the tree on Friday, a team brimming with confidence and I have no doubt Pat (Lam, Bears director of rugby) will have a few tricks up his sleeve.
“We are going down there with one mindset, and that’s to push Bristol for 80 minutes and see where we are after that.”
Asked whether the period of Six Nations games offered Sale the chance to win matches, Sanderson said: “We aren’t targeting any specific games or any period of time.
“We want to define ourselves and understand our trademarks and our identities, that’s the most important thing at the moment.
“Why are we here and how are we going about it?”
Sanderson won his first game in charge against Leicester last weekend as the Sharks recovered from an 8-0 deficit to triumph 25-15 at Welford Road.
The victory took Sale into third place in the Premiership, six points adrift of Bristol.
Lam said: “You’ve got World Cup winners in there, some world-class international players – and obviously, Alex coming in is a massive boost for them.
“I’ve known Alex from my playing days, he had a tremendously successful time at Saracens and was a big influence there, and there’s no doubt he’ll take Sale to another level as well.
“It’s going to be tough, and the beauty about the Premiership is that every game is tough.
“But every game is different as well, there are different threats and so many world-class players in different teams, that’s why I love it and enjoy coaching in it.”
Sale Sharks Starting XV: 15. Luke James, 14. Byron McGuigan, 13. Sam James, 12. Sam Hill, 11. Marland Yarde, 10. Aj MacGinty, 9. Faf de Klerk; 1. Bevan Rodd, 2. Curtis Langdon, 3. Will-Griff John, 4. Josh Beaumont, 5. Cobus Wiese, 6. Jono Ross (Capt), 7. Cameron Neild, 8. Jean-Luc du Preez.
Replacements: 16. Ewan Ashman, 17. Ross Harrison, 18. Coenie Oosthuizen, 19. James Philiips, 20. Sam Dugdale, 21. Will Cliff, 22. Robert du Preez, 23. Simon Hammersley
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