Northampton Saints centre Dom Waldouck admits he is shocked to see Sale Sharks languishing at the bottom of the Aviva Premiership ahead of the team’s televised encounter on Friday evening.
Waldouck and his team-mates travel to Salford City Stadium eight places better off than their hosts but the 25-year-old is adamant Sharks pose a tough test.
Former London Wasps star Waldouck is prepared for a Sharks “reaction” after their 29-3 hammering at Gloucester last time out, and he is warning against complacency in front of the ESPN cameras.
“I expect a reaction from Sale to what happened last week,” said Waldouck, an Aviva Premiership and Heineken Cup winner in his time at Wasps.
“I think they will be bitterly disappointed with what happened at Gloucester. They are a quality outfit and have world class players littered throughout the team so we will get a reaction.
“I am surprised to see them at the bottom of the table. When you look at the names they have in their team you would imagine they would be near to the top of the table.
“But you can’t be complacent in any game in the Aviva Premiership because all of the teams are capable. Everyone wrote London Welsh off before the season and they have done brilliantly.
“It is a hugely competitive competition and bottom can beat top. There aren’t ever any games where teams run away with it. It is going to be tight and this weekend will be another example of that.”
Sale are likely to have been given a boost following the announcement that former New Zealand coach John Mitchell will oversee first team affairs for the rest of the season.
Mitchell has been part of the club’s strategy management board for the last month, sharing coaching responsibilities with his position as head coach at South African side Golden Lions.
Now he will be taking a more prominent role with Sharks, starting against Saints.
“We’ve got to become a better team, and our collective will and desire has to improve – there’s some individuals in the team that need to improve in that area – so we’re going to be working very hard on that,” said Mitchell.
“I’d like to see us play a little more pressure football, which will allow us to build the scoreboard.
“I think we probably play a little bit too much rugby, and we need to improve defensively in order to play pressure football – they’re the areas we need to focus on.”
Referee: Llyr ApGeraint Roberts (7th Premiership game)
Assistant Referees: Paul Burton, Robin Goodliffe. TMO: David Grashoff
(Salford City Stadium, 7.45pm)
Live on ESPN HD