London Wasps wing Tom Varndell has warned his side to expect a backlash from basement boys Sale Sharks in the Aviva Premiership in front of the ESPN cameras this Sunday.
Varndell and co entertain a Sale side rooted to the foot of the Aviva Premiership with only one win from their ten matches this term and on the back of a 62-0 hiding at the hands of Toulon last weekend.
Wasps, on the other hand, sit eighth in the table but remain within touching distance of the top four and the play-off places with last year’s relegation-threatened campaign now a distant memory.
But Varndell, 26, is convinced that the Sharks will be fighting for their lives.
“Sale are going to be like men possessed on the weekend, obviously with the coaches they’ve got too, and I know for a fact that this is a game they are targeting so this is definitely not a nice time to play them,” he said.
“I know exactly how they’re feeling, we were in a similar position last year.
“You don’t want to be relegated, no one wants to be relegated, but when you look at where they are, they’re in a worse situation than what we were in last year.
“They’ve only got six points so this is a crucial time in the season for them, it’s half way, they’ve either got to kick on and take it into the New Year or you’re going to be looking over your shoulder and worrying about where the points are coming from.
“It’s a massive game, and it’s at home. We’re unbeaten at home but this is still a must win game.
“The next three weeks are going to be massive for us because we want to be in the top six, or the top four, and if we win in the next few weeks then we’re going to be right in contention.
“If we can go into the New Year in the top six, which is possible if we win the next few games, then we’ll be happy with that. We’re chuffed with what we’ve done and what we’ve achieved and we’re looking up the table, at the Leicesters and the Northamptons and the Harlequins so it is exciting times.”
Meanwhile, Sale Sharks flanker Dave Seymour believes the festive period could make or break their season with Worcester Warriors arriving at the Salford City Stadium next Friday.
He said: “The message has been ‘look, Toulon has gone, this is our big game’. These next two or three games are vital, especially the two over the Christmas period. We’ll take out of the Toulon games what we need to take out of it, and everyone’s eyes are on Sunday now.
“Within this team, this building, and within everyone who works for Sale Sharks, there’s no question of motivation, of will or of belief. Even with the season going as it has, there’s been no question towards that.
“We’ve got the quality of players, there’s absolutely no question. It’s been a tough week’s training and we’ve got a lot of work done, and we have to make sure come Sunday, it has to come out on the field.”
Referee: JP Doyle (51st Premiership game)
Assistant Referees: Andrew Watson, Andrew Pearce. TMO: Geoffrey Warren.