Sale, unbeaten since an opening weekend league defeat against Leicester, will parade a line-up containing 14 internationals. But the Ospreys can virtually match them man for man, including two intriguing all-Lions battles — Gavin Henson versus Charlie Hodgson and Shane Williams against Mark Cueto.
Jones claimed: “This is without doubt the toughest group in this season’s Heineken Cup. It contains three of the biggest packs in European rugby, and it will take a super-human effort from us if we are to progress. I watched Sale demolish London Irish last weekend, and I was really impressed with the way they are playing. They didn’t just beat the Irish, they manhandled them into submission.”
Sharks rugby director Philippe Saint-Andre has made two changes from the side which pummelled Irish 31-14, calling up former Swansea scrum-half Sililo Martens and ex-Cardiff prop Ben Evans, whose scrummaging battle opposite Ospreys skipper Duncan Jones could prove a key contest.
L Byrne; N Walker, S Parker, A Bishop, S Williams; G Henson, J Marshall; D Jones (capt), B Williams, A Jones, B Cockbain, I Evans, F Tiatia, S Tandy, R Jones.
H Bennett, P James, A Wyn Jones, J Thomas, J Spice, S Connor, J Hook.
J Robinson (capt); M Cueto, M Taylor, E Seveali’i, O Ripol; C Hodgson, S Martens; A Sheridan, S Bruno, B Evans, C Jones, D Schofield, J White, M Lund, I Fernandez Lobbe.
S Turner, B Stewart, N Briggs, S Chabal, C Day, R Wigglesworth, D Larrechea.
CAPTAIN Mike Catt has recovered from a leg injury to lead London Irish in tonights’s Pool Five meeting with Madejski Stadium visitors Llanelli Scarlets.
Catt’s midfield return sees Riki Flutey reverting to fly-half instead of Barry Everitt, although Flutey and lock Kieran Roche face late fitness tests, while hooker Danie Coetzee and flanker Oliver Magne find themselves on bench duty after starting against Sale.
Llanelli parades a powerful line-up which includes Wales half-backs Stephen Jones and Dwayne Peel, Ireland flanker Simon Easterby, plus gifted New Zealand centre Regan King.
M Horak; T Ojo, S Mapusua, M Catt (capt), S Tagicakibau; R Flutey, R Rees; N Hatley, D Paice, R Skuse, K Roche, J Hudson, A McCullen, D Danaher, J Leguizamon.
T Lea’aetoa, D Coetzee, D Murphy, O Magne, G Tiesi, P Hodgson, D Armitage.
C Thomas; D James, R King, G Evans, M Jones; S Jones, D Peel; I Thomas, M Rees, C Dunlea, V Cooper, I Afeaki, S Easterby (capt), G Thomas, A Popham.
A Gravelle, D Manu, A Jones, N Thomas, C Stuart-Smith, D Daniel, B Davies.
CAPTAIN Chris Paterson will miss Edinburgh’s opening Heineken Cup fixture in France against Agen
The Scotland international suffered a knee injury in the Magners League win over Munster and will be replaced by Ben Cairns. Craig Smith comes in for Alasdair Dickinson in the front row and Ross Rennie starts in place of Alan MacDonald at flanker.
Agen sit ninth in the French top flight after 11 matches.
L Lafforgue (capt); M Ahotaeiloa, C Stoltz, A Mignardi, S Mirande; F Gelez, N Morlaes; P Van Niekerk, J Narjissi, A Galasso, A Badenhorst, K Koulemine, M Lievremont, C Yukes, T Soucaze.
A Tiatia, E Guinazu, F Culine, O Fonua, M Carabignac, J Miquel, D Vainqueur.
H Southwell; B Cairns, M di Rollo, R Dewey, S Webster; P Godman, M Blair; A Jacobsen, D Hall, C Smith, M Mustchin, S Murray (capt), A Strokosch, R Rennie, D Callam.
A Kelly, A Dickinson, F Pringle, A MacDonald, G Laidlaw, D Hodge, M Pyke.
BORDER Reivers’ new signing Brendon Daniel goes straight into the squad for the Heineken Cup opener against Parma
The former New Zealand Sevens winger will be on the bench after agreeing a deal to keep him at Netherdale until the end of the season. The experienced Gregor Townsend drops out of the squad altogether to accommodate the new arrival. Wing Simon Danielli replaces Mark Robertson and stand-off John Dalziel comes in for Ross Beattie.
C MacRae, S Danielli, B MacDougall, G Law, N De Luca, S Jones, C Cusiter, G Kerr, R Ford, E Kalman, O Palepoi, C Hamilton, J Dalziel, K Brown, S Gray
S Scott, B Douglas, S Newlands, A Miller, B McKerchar, M Robertson, B Daniel.
A Little; M Neethling, E Galon, TBC, N Mazzucato; F Mazzariol, M Frati; G Fontana, B Masetti, T Paoletti, D Guiness, L Pascu (capt), P Sciarretta, M Barbieri, M Vosawai.
A De Marchi, L Zanini, F Minello, J Soffredini, A Canale, A Orsi, R Robuschi.