Sharks take-off for Toulouse
Article date: Fri, 09 Oct 2009 16:35 GMT
The Sale Sharks began their Heineken Cup journey at Manchester Airport on the morning of October 9th, flying over to France to tackle three-time winners Toulouse in their opening match of the 2009/10 European campaign.
Scrum half Dwayne Peel travelled with the team and will captain the side from scrum half on Sunday. Peel is making his first start of the season after returning from a groin injury.
Sharks face a formidable Toulouse side despite the absence of French international full back Clermont Poitrenaud for the match. The French giants have plenty of international experience even without Poitrenaud with an all-international backline including Maxime Medard, Vincent Clerc, Cedric Haymans, Yannick Jauzion, Florian Fritz, Jean-Baptiste Ellissalde, and All Black Byron Kelleher.
The 2009/10 campaign will also be the first time in 12 seasons that Toulouse will be playing in the Heineken Cup without their talismanic leader Fabien Pelous. The former French lock and captain retired from the club at the end of last season.
Sharks director of Rugby Kingsley Jones thinks his squad will rise to the challenge in this year's tournament.
"We have to manage the squad carefully and I had players like Gavin Kerr wanting some game time...
"Gavin has 50 caps for Scotland and has been working hard and deserves a chance as do some of the other squad members like Jack Forster and Rob O'Donnell. We are also boosted this weekend with the return of Dwayne Peel, Sean Cox and Carl Fearns from injury and all three can't wait for the game in Toulouse to kick off.
"In managing the squad I am fully aware that we only have a five day turn around after Sunday's game against Toulouse and we are flying back straight after the match to maximise our preparations for Cardiff Blues"
Before they departed, Sharks head coach Jason Robinson, scrum half Richard Wigglesworth, wing Ben Cohen and lock Sean Cox stopped by JD Sports in Manchester Airport's Terminal 1 to launch their new black and blue European shirt.
The new shirt features the Sharks' trademark fin and new main sponsor UKFast on the front. The black and cyan colour scheme has already been a hit amongst Sharks supporters with the club receiving record numbers of pre-orders.
JD Sports will be stocking the shirts in their shop in the airport's brand new terminal 1 facility throughout the weekend. This is the first time the Sharks' shirts have been available in Manchester Airport for three seasons.
The club estimates that approximately one thousand Sharks supporters will be making the journey from the North West to support their team in the south of France this weekend, with most of these supporters travelling through Manchester Airport.
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