Sale Sharks Director of Rugby Steve Diamond has signalled his intent ahead of the Gallagher Premiership domestic season.
The world’s attention will be fixed on rugby union next Friday as the Rugby World Cup commences in Japan, with Sale Sharks represented across four nations at this year’s tournament.
The Sharks’ attention however will be elsewhere, as the club prepare for the start of their domestic campaign on Saturday the 21st September. Sale will face Northampton Saints in the Premiership Rugby Cup for their first outing at the AJ Bell Stadium this season, and Director of Rugby Steve Diamond admits it’s been a long wait this year because of changes to the season structure due to the World Cup.
“We have just come off a great warm weather training week in Spain, and the team are edgy, they want to play. It’s been a very long pre-season.” Said the long-standing Director of Rugby. “We are running with no injuries to the first team squad and everybody has stuck their hand up for selection over the past nine weeks.”
Usually used as a development competition for Gallagher Premiership clubs, this year the Premiership Rugby Cup takes place during the first four weeks of the domestic season, to allow clubs like Sale with multiple representatives at the World Cup, to play fewer league fixtures without their missing players. Diamond however, admits he will be taking the tournament seriously as he looks to develop some form ahead of the clubs first Gallagher Premiership game against Gloucester on the 19th October.
Were taking this competition seriously and the strength of the squad will reflect that, I think most teams will treat the Premiership Rugby Cup similarly to us this year as it’s an opportunity for every-one to get a good run into the league”
As a result of the Sharks impressive form in the European Challenge Cup last year, Sale have qualified for this year’s Heineken Champions Cup and have bolstered their squad with some world-class recruitment as they prepare to take on the Europe’s best.
The club have added six South African internationals to their ranks over the past five months, along with experienced prop Jake Cooper-Wooley from Wasps and fullback Simon Hammersley from relegated Northern rivals Newcastle. Speaking to the media this week, Diamond signalled he will be using all the options available to him in their first game of the season after an impressive recruitment drive over the summer.
“It looks like it’s going to be a very strong side that goes out against Northampton, all three du Preez lads will be playing in the game, along with Akker van Der Merwe and Rohan Janse Van Rensburg. Jake Cooper-Wooley and Simon Hammersley will also be playing a part along with our regular Stalwarts of Webber, Chris Ashton, Denny and so on. We’ll be picking from a full strength squad so it should be a fantastic game”.
To match their ambitions on the field, the club have also been looking at a number of incentives to increase attendances at the AJ Bell Stadium this season, and to replicate the incredible atmospheres from recent games such as the memorable Friday Night victory against Saracens last season. To get 2019-20 off to a flying start, adult tickets to the first two Premiership Rugby Cup games will be available to buy from as little as £3, giving fans the chance to get their first look at all the new signings on display at a packed-out AJ Bell Stadium.