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Sale are ready to face the "Barcelona of rugby" when they take on Toulon

Published 20/10/2016

Sale director of Rugby Steve Diamond is ready to give Toulon a tough test
Sale director of Rugby Steve Diamond is ready to give Toulon a tough test

Steve Diamond insists Sale are ready to face rugby's equivalent of football giants Barcelona on Friday night.

Toulon's galacticos visit AJ Bell Stadium with the aim of reviving their European Champions Cup group campaign after their Cote d'Azur stronghold was stormed for the first time in major European competition by Saracens last weekend.

They can not afford another set-back and Diamond has heaped all the pressure on the big-spending Top 14 club as Sale seek to bounce back from their own loss to the Scarlets.

"In football terms it's a bit like Barcelona coming to town because Toulon are the biggest club in world rugby. We'll see how good they are on Friday night," the Sharks director of rugby said.

"Toulon are the biggest spending team in the world. They're the most successful side over the last five years and we're fortunate enough to have them in the group.

"You can see how prominent that is by the size of the crowd - there's 8,000 tickets sold and the Manchester public come out to watch the big teams. There's no bigger than Toulon.

"Toulon have everything to do. They've got to come to Manchester on a wet, windy night to beat us and get a bonus point - so the pressure is on them.

"The players have got a gameplan to put in place and if they get that right and put in a really good performance, then perhaps we'll get a win.

"By virtue of us not losing many games over the last four years at home, it makes it a difficult place for sides to come to.

"Toulon were beaten last week taking no points so the pressure is on them really.

"We've just got to do what we do well and perform at the highest level and if we do that we've got a chance."

Sale make five changes following their 28-11 defeat by the Scarlets, among them the return of scrum-half Peter Stringer from a bicep injury.

Toulon backs coach Mike Ford insists Sale will fancy their chances after his side were beaten 31-23 by reigning champions Saracens.

"Sale will be tough and will be licking their lips, but we have superb players and they will respond," Ford said.

Wales captain Sam Warburton is still missing as the Blues prepare to face Pau in the Challenge Cup.

Warburton, who has recovered from a fractured cheekbone, has been ruled out by neck stiffness.

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