Billy Millard is relishing the challenge of taking on league leaders Sale Sharks as Harlequins look to return to winning ways on Friday night.

Quins tasted defeat in their last two Gallagher Premiership encounters, with a disappointing 38-10 defeat to Saracens at The Stoop followed up with an end-to-end 36-33 loss away at Northampton Saints.

The fixtures do not get any easier for Millard’s side before the league takes a fortnight’s pause for European competition, with Sharks arriving in the capital off the back of four straight victories and just one defeat all season.

That form has seen Alex Sanderson’s side, who finished runners-up last term, power to the top of the pre-Christmas tree but Millard is focused on his side improving their showing compared to recent weeks.

He said: “We know we have a big challenge in front of us, but we’re excited to put in a good performance.

“We are back at The Stoop and we want to put in a better performance against a Sale team who are currently top of the league.

“It will be a tough contest and we can’t wait for it.

“It’s our last Premiership fixture for a couple of weeks and we want to finish on a high.

“We have a great rivalry with Sale and they lead the Premiership for a reason. It is a big opportunity for our guys to deliver a big response for our supporters.”

Millard has rung the changes following narrow defeat last week, with prop Joe Marler returning to the starting XV as part of a completely new front row that sees Will Collier the other side of hooker Sam Riley.

Joe Launchbury also comes into the pack in the second row alongside Dino Lamb, who shifts from blindside flanker, with England youth international Chandler Cunningham-South the other new face in the forwards.

The only alteration to the backs sees Nick David come in for Louis Lynagh on the wing, meaning last season’s top try scorer Cadan Murley retains his place after scoring on his first appearance of the term last weekend.

It took the 24-year-old just four minutes to open his account for the season following his return from injury and the wing is determined to get more involved as he chases last year’s tally of 15 – as well as a potential England call-up for the Six Nations.

“It’s been a long rehab process but the support at Quins has been incredible,” said Murley.

“It’s never easy being out with an injury, especially when it happens at the start of the season, but I’m very grateful to everyone who has supported me the past two months to get myself back fit and ready.

“It was a great confidence boost [to score after four minutes].

“I’d love to [score more tries], but obviously, with a few less games, it might be a bit tougher to get that 16.

“I don’t really think about it, I want to do what’s best for the team but, if I can get my hands on the ball and get on the end of a few more moves, then I’m not going to complain.

“I’m always going to have that drive, to represent my country is one of my dreams.

“I’m always going to aspire for that and no matter how close or how far away I am, I’m always going to try and put my best foot forward and show what I can do to Steve [Borthwick].”