Aviva Premiership Club-by-Club: Sale Sharks

Sale SharksTeam: Sale Sharks
Coach: Mike Brewer
Home ground: Edgeley Park

Players In:
Aston Croall (prop, Harlequins), Rob Miller (fly-half/centre, Newcastle), Matty James (Manawatu), Kyle Tonetti (Leinster), Mike Petri (New York Athletic Club), Wame Lawaravu (Parma), Paul Williams (Auckland Blues), Karena Wihongi (Bourgoin), Mikaele Pesamino (Auckland), Chris Brightwell (Birmingham/Solihull), Iain Thornley (Wigan Warriors), Nic Rouse (Nottingham), Rhys Crane (Bath), James Lewis (Coventry).

Players Out:
Luke Abraham (flanker, Lyon), Brent Cockbain (lock, released), David Doherty (utility back, released), Dafydd James (wing, released), Rob O’Donnell (prop, Rotherham), Oriol Ripol (wing, Worcester), Dean Schofield (lock, Toulon), Lee Thomas (centre, Lyon), Richard Wigglesworth (scrum-half, Saracens), Mark Atkinson (London Wasps), Ryan Glynn (Northampton Saints), Ed Styles (Loughborough Students), Alex Shaw (Coventry), James Jones (released)

Strengths:
Any team with a backbone consisting of Andrew Sheridan, Charlie Hodgson and Mark Cueto ought to be taken seriously, and regardless of all the change that’s been happening at Sale, no visiting team will take anything for granted.

Weaknesses:
There’s something not quite right about the club at the moment, arguably stemming from Jason Robinson’s departure and Mike Brewer coming in all guns blazing. Quotes like “I will ask those guys [current squad members] where they see themselves fitting in as I may be bringing in new players and they won’t get much rugby” won’t necessarily endear him to the squad.

Plenty of players have come in and they’ll take time to gel, and Hodgson will be missing for the first month of the season so they won’t have his guidance to help them through that transition. With fixtures against Saracens, Harlequins and Bath in that month they may find themselves at the bottom of the pile early on with a big mountain to climb.

One to watch:
Slightly unusually, we’ve picked the coach Mike Brewer as the one to watch at Sale this season – much will depend on how the squad responds to his direction and whether he can pull off a Brendan Venter rather than a Fabio Capello.

Last season:
11th

Prediction:
We think Sale will be involved in a two-horse relegation battle, and will edge it to finish 11th.

13 thoughts on “Aviva Premiership Club-by-Club: Sale Sharks

  1. Just had confirmation through Twitter, the official comms channel, that Satala and Sowden-Taylor are not joining Sale.

    They also had this to say – “You may also have to add more departures to your list before the season kicks off!”

  2. Got a feeling Sale are going to have another troublesome season, with major problems behind the scenes effecting their performances

  3. David bishop and one other have been released as well. i think 11th is harsh considering what we have gone through. I would expect a shock and maybe 7th or 8th. i understand that there may be a few more leaving to trim the squad back to about 37/38.

  4. Yes, I think there are going to be a few more departures, which is pretty tough on the players at this stage. Should be an interesting season for the neutral, but a hard one for the fans I suspect.

    But maybe they’ll do what Saracens did?! Who knows…

  5. I agree Hutch, i think there were way too many players who were just happy in what they were doing. MB has come in a really shook the ground. now the players know where they stand and what is expected. with the salary cap i think there were a few over paid players who were clogging the system.

    It is tough on the players and it being quite close to the start of the season, but i believe a warning was made months ago, pick up or pack up in essence. I can see MB being like saracens, but not this season, this is one for consolidation so lower mid table is expected by fans, even an entrance to the second tier european cup would be nice.

  6. Agreed. Survival and consolidation this season, and then try to make progress next year. It’s such a competitive league though in which anyone can beat anyone, so they might surprise a few people.

    Long term, the shake-up will be forgotten if Sale do well, but short-term, MB isn’t making himself hugely popular. I’m not that close to it though, so don’t really know.

  7. No outsider seems to recognise we had a long injury list to add to losing 10 or so quality players to Toulon and fewer much lower quality replacing them. Brewer has cleared most of these out and replaced them hopefully with better players. I expect Sale to achieve a mid table position at least as long as the players really play to their potential.

  8. as a sale fan for the last 7 years, it pains me to think of the problems we have had on and off the field since we won the title back in 2006.

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