Alex Sanderson urges Sale to remain switched on against Toulouse

Sale Sharks boss Alex Sanderson knows that his team cannot afford another “tumble dryer” experience when they host European heavyweights Toulouse on Saturday.

Toulouse, five-time European champions, will arrive at the AJ Bell Stadium less than a month after scoring seven tries and dismissing Sale 45-19 on home soil.

It proved a rare setback for the Sharks this season, having underlined their Gallagher Premiership title credentials by currently holding second place following nine victories from 12 league starts.

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“There are lessons we learnt against Toulouse which I hope not to repeat,” rugby director Sanderson said.

“For example, don’t give them any opportunity to get quick ball.

“What we didn’t preview – and sometimes it is difficult to gauge unless it’s live – is how fast they are able to strike.

“They are unbelievable opportunists, so if you give them a little sniff or momentum then you are in a tumble dryer. You are chasing shadows and marvelling at their off-loads.

AJ Bell Stadium
Sale Sharks’ AJ Bell Stadium is sold out for the visit of Toulouse (Richard Sellers/PA)

“They caught us in a few moments in that game when where we weren’t quite on it and weren’t alive to it, which we are now.”

Victory for Sale over the current French league leaders would strengthen their hopes of reaching the Heineken Champions Cup knockout phase.

And it would also underline their continued rise under Sanderson, with the stadium sold out for a second successive game, even though it kicks off just 30 minutes after the Manchester derby between United and City less than six miles away at Old Trafford.

Sanderson added: “It is a good indication of the health of the club, organisation and probably rugby in the north-west, particularly around Manchester.

“It is the first time we have sold out back-to-back home games, and the interest we are managing to gather is all down to the players.

“They are really looking forward to having a full house behind them, and it makes a difference.

“It will be a hell of a game – it is the best team in France versus one of the in-form teams in the Premiership over recent weeks.

“That is a decent match-up in itself, let alone the international players on show.”