From Faf de Klerk to Tom Curry and Rob du Preez, the Sharks squad is blessed with some big personalities. And in a team packed full of leaders, it takes a special person to stand out as the captain. But that’s exactly what Jono Ross has been doing through thick and thin since he was given the armband more than three years ago.
And despite some challenges in this campaign, our 31-year-old skipper is confident that good times are ahead for his Sharks.
Jono said: “We started slowly this season and didn’t get off to the start we all wanted. It was tough after a Lions tour but actually I think maybe we needed to experience a tough time like that to come out of it a better team.
“Last season was great and we won a lot of games but sometimes when it’s hard going, that’s when the true test of the group comes. Now I feel we’ve come through it as a better team and a tighter group.
“We’ve also seen some really good young players come through because they got chances at the start of the season. Guys like Tom Roebuck, Arron Reed and Kieran Wilkinson got opportunities and they have grown so much.”
After the defeat against Gloucester earlier in the season, Director of Rugby Alex Sanderson talked about the importance of getting some of his big players back.
And Jono says today’s game is a good way of measuring just how far the squad has come since that fixture at Kingsholm.
He said: “Gloucester are a really good team and it’ll be a huge challenge for us today, but I feel like in the last five or six weeks every game has been like that.
“We were disappointed with our first half against Exeter last week but this team has so much character and we’ll take a lot from our second half and the way we came back.
“In many ways this game is a good barometer for us, but we’ve always known that if we get our game and our processes right, the results will follow.
“Every game is a cup final for us and of course it would be great to get into that top four, but it would be really foolish to look too far ahead. We’re focused on the next game and the job in hand and that’s today against Gloucester.”
Jono has seen big changes on and off the field since he signed for Sale in April 2017. But he says he still gets the same buzz every day as he did the first time he ran out in a Sharks shirt against Wasps.
He added: “It’s always been an exciting place to be. That’s why I came here in the first place.
“With Simon, Michelle and Ged as owners there’s always been so much ambition and then when Alex came in last year, it felt like it went up to another level.
“On and off the field we’re putting in the work and putting building blocks in place for the future and while that might mean some good friends and good players leave the club, there are some fantastic players coming in too.
“We’ve got some brilliant young players too, and as the captain that’s really rewarding. I can remember the Curry twins coming into the team for the first time and now look at what they’ve achieved. The future is so bright and I’m loving being a part of it.”