Sale Sharks return to the Heineken Champions Cup next season after two years in the European Rugby Challenge Cup. Below, we take a closer look at the Gallagher Premiership club before the Heineken Champions Cup draw on June 19.

What is their European Cup record like?
Sale have competed in the competition nine times and reached the knockout stage once – in 2005/06, when they were beaten 11-6 in the quarter-finals at Biarritz Olympique.

Who is on their coaching staff?
The Sharks’ director of rugby is Steve Diamond, who was a player with the club for 11 years – between 1989 and 2000, during which time he made nine Challenge Cup appearances – before starting his coaching career with them in 2001.

The following year the 51-year-old Lancastrian began coaching England Saxons, before moving to Saracens for two and a half years in 2004.

He then became the Russian national team’s director of rugby and guided them to the 2011 Rugby World Cup. Later that year he returned to Sale, since when he has been the club’s director of sport, CEO and director of rugby.

Diamond has an experienced coaching team in former England rugby league assistant coach Paul Deacon (attack/skills), ex-Connacht Rugby defence coach Mike Forshaw, Sale stalwart Pete Anglesea (forwards), one-time Bath Rugby head coach Jon Callard (kicking) and ex-England hooker Dorian West (scrum).

Who are their new signings?
Sale have made eight signings for next season, including three from the Du Preez family – twins Jean-Luc and Dan, both of whom are forwards and will be on loan from South African outfit Cell-C Sharks, and their fly-half brother, Rob, who has penned a three-year contract.

The Du Preez’s will be three of six South African arrivals at the AJ Bell Stadium, the others being prop Coenie Oosthuizen and hooker Akker van der Merwe, who also comes from Cell-C Sharks, plus South Africa lock Lood de Jager, who joins from Bulls.

Sale’s other two signings for 2019/20 are from English clubs, with full-back Simon Hammersley moving south from Newcastle Falcons after six years with the relegated Premiership team and prop Jake Cooper-Woolley joining from Wasps after a similar period with the Midlands outfit.

Who are their top players?
South Africa scrum-half Faf de Klerk is Sale’s principal playmaker, while they boast deadly finishers on the wing in England internationals Denny Solomona, Chris Ashton and Marland Yarde, plus Scotland flyer Byron McGuigan. Australia centre James O’Connor is another star back.

Up front their main men are England flanker Tom Curry and twin brother Ben, ex-England hooker Rob Webber, South African flanker Jono Ross, lock or No.8 Josh Beaumont and Scotland back-row forward Josh Strauss.