Belfast Telegraph

Friday 31 October 2014

Davies still wary of struggling Sharks

Nigel Davies insists he has 'total respect' for Sharks who are desperate for a win

Gloucester boss Nigel Davies will take little notice of Sale Sharks' Aviva Premiership status when they arrive at Kingsholm on Saturday.

Gloucester, boosted by returning internationals Charlie Sharples and Jim Hamilton, are currently 18 points and eight places above Sale. But while Sharks currently prop up the Premiership table after claiming just one league win all season, Davies has consigned such statistics to the back burner.

"You look at their squad and they have an excellent squad of players. We have to respect that," he said. "They will be disappointed with where they are in the league and they will be desperate for a win to get themselves back on track."

Davies added: "We have total respect for them, but if we want to remain a top-four team then we have to turn up mentally in the right place for every game we play. We've got good momentum going into the game. We've been able to rotate the squad a little bit in recent weeks so everyone has had a bit of game time and is fresh and raring to go."

Shane Monahan moves to the left wing, accommodating Sharples' reappearance in club colours following his omission from England's match-day 23 against South Africa on Saturday, although Gloucester will be without number eight Ben Morgan, who starts at Twickenham.

Northampton, after dropping out of the top four earlier this month following a surprise run of three league defeats, should get back on track against Franklin's Gardens visitors London Welsh on Saturday.

Saints rediscovered winning ways with an LV= Cup success against Newport Gwent Dragons last weekend, which came as welcome relief following their worst sequence in the league for 12 months.

"London Welsh have been very competitive this season and we will not be taking them lightly," Northampton rugby director Jim Mallinder said. "They have players with the experience and ability to take advantage if we make a mistake and with (head coach) Lyn Jones, they have a coach who has been around the game for a long time."

Jones, meanwhile, believes Saturday's game will provide an excellent test for his team. He said: "As a rugby player you really want to be taking on and measuring yourself against the best, and Northampton are certainly up there with the elite of European rugby."

Sunday's Premiership action sees third-placed Leicester visiting Wasps and London Irish hosting Exeter.

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