Aviva Premiership Team-by-team Guide: Part 4

Aviva Trophy in Twickenham

These are our final three team profiles for the Aviva Premiership. We think that by this time next year, two out of the three will be competing in the Heineken Cup. What do you think?

SaleTeam: Sale Sharks
Coach: Brian Redpath
Ground: Salford City Stadium
Key players in:
Eifion Lewis-Roberts (Toulon), Richie Gray (Glasgow), Danny Cipriani (Melbourne Rebels) and Cameron Shepherd (Western Force).
Key players out:
Andrew Sheridan (Toulon), Weme Lewaravu (Mont-de-Marsan), Onosai Tololima-Auva’a, Scot Mathie (Eastern Province Kings), Tommy Bell (Wasps), Andrew Higgins (Newcastle), Luther Burrell (Northampton), Iain Thornley (Wigan Rugby League) and Joaquin Tuculet (Grenoble).
Strengths:
Steve Diamond, the Chief Executive of the club, is determined to turn Sale into the Manchester Rugby version of their footballing counterparts. To fulfil this dream, he wanted an ambitious Director of Rugby, and he got one in the shape of Brian Redpath. They have a very useful academy, a brand new stadium and with Cameron Shepherd a recent acquisition since Northampton cancelled his contract, things are looking good up in the north-east.
Weaknesses:
They have always struggled to produce consistent performances: one week world-beaters, the next distinctly average. Redpath will have to rectify that issue if they are ever going to pursue the kind of dream which Diamond is determined to follow. Also just like Irish, this setup is new and may take some time to gel, and we all know that you cannot afford to start slowly in this league.
Player to watch:
One of the finest Scottish exports since his manager, Richie Gray is a fantastically mobile and agile second row and is a very useful ball-carrier, as Scotland can testify. However, the big-show signing of the summer for Sale was the return to these shores of Danny Cipiraini. If he can be bothered, he could be sublime, but to get him motivated could be a struggle as the Rebels found out – his stay down under was not without controversy.
Last season:
They scraped into the Heineken Cup places last season, which was fundamental for Diamond’s vision. They were erratic at best and can’t afford that this time round.
Prediction:
A better season with more consistent performances is the order of the day. 5th
Website:
Twitter:
@SaleSharksRugby
Facebook: www.facebook.com/salesharks
Click here to join the Sale Sharks Fans league on SuperBru

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SaracensTeam: Saracens
Coach: Mark McCall
Ground: Allianz Park
Key players in:
Lorenzo Romano (Aironi), Alastair Hargreaves (Sharks), Nick Fenton-Wells (Stormers) and Chris Ashton (Northampton).
Key players out:
Hugh Vyvyan (Retired), Luke Baldwin (Bedford), Michael Tagicakibau (Bristol) and Marcus Watson (Playing Sevens)
Strengths:
A big pack filled with international experience and a very good kicking game have managed to get Sarries to where they are today. Clever running lines from the backs and big hits in the midfield from Brad Barritt have allowed them to bully other teams both physically and mentally.
Weaknesses:
Quite a limited game plan, although in previous seasons they have shown that it is conducive to wins. When they are occasionally unleashed the backs have shown that they can score tries from anywhere, and a more ambitious approach could see them lead the way in the league.
Player to watch:
Schalk Brits is one of the most dynamic hookers in world rugby and could arguably play in the backs – his turn of pace and skilful hands are extraordinary for a front row forward. Behind the pack is Owen Farrell, an extremely talented young fly-half or centre, and whilst he has his critics, he is still only 20 and will develop further with age.
Last season:
Disappointing 3rd for the Champions the season before (2009-2010), and they would have at least wanted a home semi in the Aviva. Were quite literally ‘booted’ out of the Heineken Cup by a team on a mission in their centenary year, Clermont Auvergne.
Prediction:
More of the same this time around. They will be aiming for a home semi and to progress at least one step further in the Heineken Cup. But I reckon it will be difficult to achieve both and their league form will suffer because of it. 3rd.
Website: www.saracens.com/news/
Twitter: @Saracens
Facebook:www.facebook.com/pages/Official-Saracens-Page/137238607925?ref=ts
Click here to join the Saracens Fans league on SuperBru

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WorcesterTeam: Worcester Warriors
Coach: Richard Hill
Ground: Sixways Stadium
Key players in:
John Andress (Exeter), Rob O’Donnell (Rotherham), Dean Schofield (Toulon), Semisi Taulava (Rotherham), Paul Hodgson (Irish), Jon Clarke (Northampton), Josh Matavesi (Racing-Metro), David Lemi (Glasgow) and Nikki Walker (Ospreys).
Key players out:
Bruce Douglas (Brsitol), Oliver Tmasczyk (Newcastle), Ben Gulliver (Bedford), Kai Horstmann (Exeter), Charlie Hayter (Moseley), Alex Crockett (Newcastle), Dale Rasmussen (Released), Marcel Garvey (Castres), Miles Benjamin (Leicester) and Tom Arscott (Welsh)
Strengths:
A formidable team built on teamwork and hard graft with players pulling in the right direction. Andy Goode, not everyone’s cup of tea at fly-half, was a shrewd signing – his boot and game management has allowed Worcester to establish themselves within the Premiership.
Weaknesses:
Quite a limited game plan. The ball rarely is given any width and this can frustrate the wide men as much as the fans. They also are poor on the road, and away from their vocal support, they can’t seem to rouse themselves as effectively as they do at fortress Sixways – they managed just one away win last year (a 6-0 drubbing at Wasps) and a draw at Newcastle.
Player to watch:
Matt Kvesic is definitely one for the future, having recently been called into the Saxons squad and was part of the successful England U20s side last season. Paul Hodgson is another astute signing by Richard Hill at scrum half, who has international experience and having played top Heineken Cup rugby, his leadership will be invaluable.
Last Season:
Was reasonable for Worcester, ending up in 10th place just below Gloucester, .
Prediction:
They’ll be targeting a higher finish then last season, but could find it tough going. 11th
Website:www.warriors.co.uk/
Twitter: @worcswarriors
Facebook: www.facebook.com/pages/Worcester-Warriors/454229615036
Click here to join the Saracens Fans league on SuperBru

7 thoughts on “Aviva Premiership Team-by-team Guide: Part 4

  1. With the new coaching set up, Worcester’s ‘Limited Game Plan’ looks like it is a thing of the past. Back to back pre-season wins against Cardiff Blues (away!!!) and Scarlets, when added to a 50-10 drubbing of a strong Rotherham side, augers well for this season.

    Warriors will finish some way higher than 11th.

    1. They’ve had a great pre-season by all accounts, and the Away wins will give them confidence – beating ‘bottom-half’ teams away from home will be key for Worcester.

  2. The warriors will be more expansive this year, Hodgson is known for getting the ball away from the breakdown fast, this will give them the space they need.

  3. the loss of Garvey and Benjamin could really turn Worcester into a 10 man rugby team – they will end up hoping London Welsh are relegated

  4. With Andy Farrell gone, and Kevin Sorrell taking over as backs coach, I’m hoping to see Sarries backs unleashed on a more regular basis. With Barritt and Tomkins linking up with Ashton for offloads they could be sublime. If everyone can stay fit, it could be a big season.

    1. One name sticks out there, TOMKINS. I think 13 is where saracens have lacked some real quality. Last season was his introduction, but i really want to se him succeed this year and stake a claim for international honours. I dont want him to be remembered as the wrong Tomkins.

  5. Sale have interesting new signings, but the players people will be talking about this season are home grown. Rob Miller may just eclipse Mike Brown and Ben Foden as a broken play runner from full back, while Tom Brady and Will Addison both scored great long distance tries last year. The friendly against an admittedly weakish Glasgow team showed that Redpath is keen to let all the backs play the game as they see it. Not sure if they will finish higher than 5th or 6th, but I think the neutrals will like what they see

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