Mallinder picks Saints team for ‘threatening’ Sale Sharks

Director of rugby Jim Mallinder says that the Northampton Saints team will need to repeat last weekend’s performance at Sixways if they are to overcome Sale Sharks at Franklin’s Gardens tomorrow.

The visitors enter this Guinness Premiership Round 17 clash sitting in fourth in the league table and set for a play-off spot. Mallinder says that Sale will present problems all over the pitch.

“Sale have been one of the Premiership’s form teams for a number of years,” he said today.

“Their defence in particular has been outstanding throughout the season and we will need to control the ball and impose ourselves if we are to break it down. But Sale are also a threat with ball in hand and Charlie Hodgson in particular is having an outstanding campaign.

“But we are coming into the game with a lot of confidence. We played well last week and know that we can perform in tough situations. We created chances and took them and our defence remained solid under a great deal of pressure. We will need to repeat this tomorrow if we are to get a good result.

“It is nice to have players performing and giving the coaches some difficult selection decisions. We are without some international players, but the guys who are coming in have all worked hard in training and are eager to show what they can do.”

It is the first time that Mallinder has coached a team against his former club in the Guinness Premiership, but he says that there is only one thing on his mind – a Northampton win.

“I played and coached at Sale for many years but there will not be any sentimentality tomorrow,” Mallinder added. “My focus is solely on the Saints’ successes, both hopefully tomorrow and in the future.”

Northampton Saints Team

15 Ben Foden, 14 Paul Diggin, 13 Joe Ansbro, 12 James Downey, 11 Bruce Reihana (capt), 10 Barry Everitt, 9 Lee Dickson, 1 Soane Tonga’uiha, 2 Brett Sharman, 3 Barry Stewart, 4 Ignacio Fernandez Lobbe, 5 Juandre Kruger, 6 Courtney Lawes, 7 Neil Best, 8 Roger Wilson

Replacements:16 Joe Gray, 17 Tom Smith, 18 Alex Rae, 19 Mark Hopley, 20 Stephen Myler, 21 Chris Mayor, 22 Sean Lamont

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