SALE SHARKS fit again skipper Dan Braid is fully focussed on what the team need to do from now until the end of the season.
The former All Blacks flanker made a welcome comeback from injury by coming on as a replacement in Sunday's 35-3 European Champions Cup defeat away to Clermont Auvergne in France.
Now the 33-year-old is set to step up his return against Wasps at the AJ Bell Stadium and then in Sale's second LV group assignment away at Leicester.
But with the team in 10th position in the Premiership table after winning just two of their first six league games, Braid's overriding priority is on helping steer the Sharks up the table when they embark on a crucial trio of league games in November at home to London Irish, followed by back-to-back away trips to Harlequins and Newcastle.
"It's been a testing start. Having 11 points on the board in the Premiership after six games is probably not what we wanted but were still in the mix having been away to Saracens and Northampton," Braid admitted.
"It is very tight in the mid-table section. It's a much more condensed table as the standard of rugby is very good so it's exciting to be back with some very important games coming up.
"Hopefully we'll get most, if not all, of our injured guys back on deck by the time the league comes round with those three crucial games.
"By then you know what teams are doing, what tweaks are happening in the scrum, you've got a better understanding of what referees are doing across the board and then it's about guys pushing each other for position, and hopefully getting some fresh legs out there.
Having been a frustrated onlooker, now that he is fit again, Braid is hopeful that he can help right some of things that have gone wrong so far this season.
"Bits of our game have been going well but there perhaps hasn't been a full performance. Hopefully, now that I'm fit again, I can try to help us fix some of those things," he added.
"Looking back, our first game of the season at home to Bath was really close and we could well have won that.
"Then at Gloucester the following week, we were in a position to win there too. Parts of our game, such as around the setpiece, keep letting us down but there are some very good parts to our game too.
"We got done by a couple of very good sides in Northampton and Saracens but we also learnt lessons.
"After the Sarries game we came out and played very well in beating Wasps and the same thing happened after we were beaten at Northampton in that we fronted up extremely well against Munster.
"So the progress is there and with a couple of tweaks here and there I'm sure we'll beat some teams."
Take a selfie in your Sharks Kit for the chance to win an enhanced family package for two adults and three children, to Sale Sharks v Harlequins on 5th March, thanks to our Principal Club Partner MBNA.