Selection headache for boss
Food for thought for Sales head coach
By Elliot Ball. Last Updated: 01/09/08 2:38pm
Saint-Andre: Selection dilemma
Sale Sharks boss Philippe Saint-Andre faces a selection headache ahead of Sunday's Guinness Premiership opener at Newcastle Falcons.
Last Thursday's final pre-season match saw the Sharks produce an encouraging 39-14 win over Lyon and Saint-Andre faces several selection dilemmas to chew over in the next few days.
The director of rugby's first headache will be for the coveted No.9 shirt, with both England scrum-half Richard Wigglesworth and high-profile summer signing Dwayne Peel putting in impressive performances against Lyon in either half.
Former Falcon Mathew Tait, who scored two tries at full-back, is likely to start against his previous employers, but Saint-Andre must decide where he will play after the 22-year-old put in an equally encouraging debut against Leeds six days earlier at outside centre.
Scotland international Rory Lamont, now fit for selection, is an option at 15 after an outstanding performance in the Leeds win.
And with a host of other players vying for selection, the choices in all positions appear endless for Saint-Andre.
"It was tough and physical for 30, 35 minutes but I knew this as Lyon are not a bad team and I thought our performance was a little bit more consistent than against Leeds," Saint-Andre told the Manchester Evening News.
"It has given me a lot to think about before the Newcastle match and we also have the benefit of a lot of other guys who will be fit and available for selection such as Jason White, Chris Bell, Andrew Sheridan and Brendan Ormsby.
"So there will be a lot of competition but that is what you need and, as a coach, is what you want.
"It's going to be a demanding year as we are involved in three tough battles in the Premiership, the Heineken Cup and the EDF Energy Cup.
"Everybody will have a part to play as it will be a long, tough season. We will need a lot of players and will use all our squad of 32 players and we will also be looking to develop eight or so players from our Academy to try and make an impact.
"Of course, in my mind I have an idea of the side I want to put out at Newcastle but it depends on a lot of things. I have to think about our balance, about the way Newcastle play and also how fit all our players are.
"But our pre-season preparations have gone well. First, with our two tour games in France and then the home matches against Leeds and Lyon.
"I feel there is a very good spirit in the camp and we have a lot of competition in different areas which is what you want."