Stephen Thomas caught up with new signing Nathan Hines at Carrington earlier in the week and asked him a few questions about his new club.
ST: Welcome to Sale, how have you found it so far?
NH: Brilliant! Training's been tough, but the boys have been enthusiastic and that helps when everyone is buying into it around the club and it's been great.
ST: Have the lads made you feel welcome so far?
NH: Yeah… by taking the mickey out of me - the way it usually happens when you are new to a team! I've found it really easy to integrate and everyone's been really chatty and made me feel comfortable and that's great as the quicker you feel comfortable; the better you can perform and train and play.
ST: Last week, you went to Wales - how was that?
NH: Yeah it was tough, climbing up Snowdon and then the next day we had some team challenges which ended up in a raft race which we won - but it wasn't a race! But that was good, it was good to get away and get some time away from Carrington and have a change of scenery.
ST: You've never played in the Aviva Premiership before, was that a key reason to join Sale: to try something new?
NH: It was that, and also Sale are on the up and ambitious and it is a really big challenge to come into a club which has had a bit of instability but now they've started to put a few things in place to get better results and that was it really. Clermont didn't really want me to stay around, so it was good to find somewhere with a little bit of ambition.
ST: Has it helped that one of your good mates, Chris Cusiter, has joined the club at the same time?
NH: He wasn't here for the first three or four weeks, so I've managed so far without him, the lads have been open and made me feel welcome. But it's great to have 'Cus' around, we played together at Perpignan and Scotland. It's nice to have a familiar face around.
ST: Has it also been nice to have Byran Redpath around coaching you?
NH: Yeah, we've already chatted about the old days! It's good to see Brush coaching and from what I've seen so far, he's brought the same qualities as he was a player so I'm excited.
ST: You've just joined from Clermont, and then the European draw comes out and you are straight back over there! What are your thoughts on that?
NH: It was always a bit of a joke when I was leaving, doing all my leaving speeches and said "I'll see you next year in the European draw" but it's not so much of a joke now! I think they are quite wary of coming here with me spending three years there and know how things sort of work. But in this new European competition, there is no easy pool - they have to cut a bit of dead wood away. It's a big challenge for us facing Munster, Saracens, and Clermont.
ST: How do you see Sale doing this season?
NH: Last season, they were one or two wins away from being in the top four, and I don't think it's a unrealistic ambition to do the same this season. Obviously, with having a few new players, it may take a bit of time for us to settle in but I think we can continue the good team spirit from last season, and maybe with a bit more experience brought in, I don't see why we can't do the same again.
Season Tickets are available for the new season and we also have in place a Direct Debit facility to help you spread the cost. We have a few prime seats left in both the East and West Stands. If you would like more information please call 08444-994-994 or email firstname.lastname@example.org and we will call you back.
Here are the fixtures for the new season http://www.salesharks.com/rugby/matchcentre/fixtures.php
Over the next few days we will be previewing the huge head-to-head battles in this Saturday's Aviva Premiership game against Exeter Chiefs. First up we are going to look at the battle at scrum half between Chris Cusiter and Will Chudley.
Principal Club Partner:
AJ Bell Stadium, Stadium Way, Eccles
Manchester M30 7WH