Henry Thomas relishing Andrew Sheridan Heineken Cup rematch

Henry ThomasHenry Thomas is eager for the chance to turn the tables on former tutor Andrew Sheridan this season after Sale’s graduation to the Heineken Cup.
Still just 20, tighthead prop Thomas moved to Manchester two years ago to study economics at the city’s university, but thanks to the presence in training of England wrecking ball Sheridan his rugby education has proved just as rich.
Learning from loosehead Sheridan, 32, has helped Thomas graduate from Sale’s second string to England Saxons, only for Sheridan to curtail the tutorials by hopping the Channel to France this summer with Toulon.
But Thomas has been handed the perfect chance to show what he has learnt when Sale face back-to-back matches with the Top 14 runners-up in December, and the former Bristol prop admits he is counting down the days.
“If I’m scrummaging well and putting in a shift around the park, I’m sure I’ll eventually get my chance at a higher level. The Heineken Cup, especially, will provide that big stage for the club.
“Obviously, if I’m picked to play Toulon, I’ll be lining up against Sheri. Although that is a long way off, I am excited – it should be really fun.
“We got on really well here. He’s a quiet guy who keeps himself to himself but whenever I did ask him anything, he was always happy to offer advice.

Andrew Sheridan
Man mountain: Andrew Sheridan

“I did some live work against him at training – he’s easily the strongest bloke I’ve ever seen. With all his experience at international level, he can be so destructive but I’m sure we’ll have a good battle.
“Don’t forget that they have Gethin Jenkins as well, which makes for a pretty formidable front row. That’s what all French teams bring to the table – they can go extremely hard for 50 minutes in the confidence that another exceptional prop can replace them.
“Our pack is very big, though, and has been bolstered by the presence of Scotland’s Richie Gray. I’m confident we can deal with any set-piece threats.”
Both Thomas and Sheridan spent their fair share of time on the treatment table last season with the loosehead  missing the majority of the campaign with a shoulder injury and Thomas restricted to 15 Premiership appearances due to a knee injury.
When he was fit the younger man was one of Sale’s stand-out performers, earning a spot in the Saxons alongside team-mates Rob Miller and James Gaskell this season.
But while his ambitions have already seen him swap the West Country for the North-west in his teens, Thomas insists he can achieve all his ambitions under the guidance of new Sharks director of rugby Bryan Redpath.
“I’ve two years left on my contract but I’d like to think that I’m a pretty loyal character,” he said.
“We’re building something pretty good at Sale and I want to be part of it. It’s a great bunch of lads and I feel very settled. With a new stadium and new players, the club is on the up. We can only wait to see how things go on the pitch, but it should be better than last year.
“Bryan Redpath has been brilliant so far. Obviously he knows the club and a few of the players, but he has come in with his own ideas, which really suits us.
“Last year, we were always aiming to get into a Heineken Cup spot. Although there were a couple of blips along the road and we had to do it the hard way in the end, we managed to achieve our goal.
“This time round, it would be fantastic if we could push on and force our way into the top four – at that point, everything is up for grabs.”
CHARLIE MORGAN

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