Saint-Andre: We’re on the brink of greatness

Sale Sharks director of rugby Philippe Saint-Andre believes a play-off win over champions Wasps will cement his side's place among the elite of European club rugby. [more]

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Sale Sharks director of rugby Philippe Saint-Andre believes a play-off win over champions Wasps will cement his side’s place among the elite of European club rugby.

The two sides go head-to-head in the Premiership semi-final at Edgeley Park on Sunday, with Saint-Andre’s men out to avenge last season’s Causeway Stadium defeat at the same stage of the competition.

The Sharks have had an outstanding campaign, finishing the regular season at the top of the Premiership table, and reaching the quarter-finals of the European Cup for the first time in the club’s history.

But the fact remains that following their low-key European Cup exit at the hands of Biarritz, defeat to Wasps would see them finish the season empty-handed.

Saint-Andre is determined for that not to happen, and expects his side to respond to yet another sell-out crowd at Edgeley Park.

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He said: "We have played 15 games at home this season and won 14 of them, so we know that one more will leave us 80 minutes away from being champions.

"We are not far from being the best side in Europe, and I think we can show that by beating Wasps on Sunday.

"Our experiences in the European Cup this year when we lost away to Munster and Biarritz, who will contest the final, will certainly stand us in good stead.

"We are a much better team than last year. We finished 10 points in front of Wasps after 22 games and I think we’ve grown up a lot."

Sale go into Sunday’s clash well rested after securing qualification for the play-offs almost a month ago.

Wasps, on the other hand, have made heavy weather of qualifying for the final stages, needing a last-gasp win over an inspired Gloucester outfit at Kingsholm last Saturday to guarantee their spot in the last four.

Saint-Andre has since had the luxury of giving the majority of his squad a much-needed rest, and he is convinced this will give his side the edge come Sunday.

"We lost away to Wasps in the semi-final last year after qualifying on the last day of the season by beating Harlequins," he said.

"This year we qualified top of the league, three weeks before the semi-final and we have prepared well.

"We rested a lot of players against Newcastle and we had one week off against Northampton when I put a lot of young kids in for experience and rested guys like Charlie Hodgson and Jason White."

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