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Sharks relishing Tigers test

Sale Sharks hope they can launch a huge week in their history on Sunday by rising to the "massive challenge" of tackling Aviva Premiership heavyweights Leicester.

Sale's Welford Road mission comes just two days before a planned announcement that will unveil major changes to the club and playing staff. Sale are thought to be discussing a possible groundshare arangement with rugby league club Salford City Reds at their new 12,000-capacity stadium that is due for completion in February.

First though is facing a Leicester side unbeaten in the Premiership for almost three months. Sale's executive director of sport Steve Diamond said: "It is a massive challenge for us to go to Welford Road. But players and coaches are involved in the game for the chance to visit stadia like that, with a full house, on New Year's Day and put up a performance."

He added: "The Leicester crowd is knowledgeable, and we hope to show them something to applaud. Tigers have a very strong side and they will be keen to win this game and also their following Premiership match (against Wasps).

"They will be missing their internationals in the next block of league games, so it will be important to them to get a foothold in the top four in the next week or two. They have a huge squad, we don't. We, fortunately, have a great gang of 30 players.

"We operate under the salary cap, and we can't rotate that many, so we will go to Welford Road with the pride and desire that we've been showing in recent games. We have achieved four successive wins, and we will see what we can do."

Leicester will be without England players Manu Tuilagi and Louis Deacon, who both suffered hamstring injuries during the bonus point victory over Worcester four days ago, as they target a sixth succesive Premiership game without defeat.

"We have had a very short turnaround from Tuesday, so we are managing all of the squad through this period," Leicester rugby director Richard Cockerill said.

"This is a very important game for us, especially with another home game to follow against Wasps next weekend.

"Sale have had a good start to the season. They are above us in the Premiership table, and Steve Diamond has done a good job in a very short period of time there."

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