A quartet of Sale Sharks’ most promising young players have committed their futures to the club by signing new long-term contracts.
Props Asher Opoku-Fordjour and Tumy Onasanya, lock Ben Bamber and centre Rekeiti Ma’asi-White have all featured in both the Gallagher Premiership and Investec Champions Cup this season.
All four were involved in Sharks most recent Champions Cup game against La Rochelle, with both Tumy and Ben lasting the full 80 minutes.
Now they have been rewarded for their performances by putting pen to paper on new deals.
Asher’s new contract keeps him at the club until the end of 2026, Ben and Tumy have committed themselves until the end of the 26/27 season, while Rekeiti has signed on until the end of 2028.
Asher, 19, has burst onto the scene this season, earning rave reviews after exciting cameos in big games in both domestic and European competitions.
The former Wasp, who joined Sharks ahead of the 22/23 season, can play on either side of the scrum and was singled out for praise by England prop Joe Marler when Sale took on Harlequins.
Sharks Director of Rugby Alex Sanderson said: “Asher was catapulted into the first team through his performances in training and injury in the squad and he’s done really well.
“He’s a freak, as a tighthead. You just don’t see the kind of core strength that he’s got and when he played against guys like Porter and Marler – British and Irish Lions – they couldn’t dig him out.
“Around the park he’s a power athlete. He dominates collisions and he’s only 19. You picture him in two years’ time, more streetwise and with a few extra kgs. It’s exciting that he’s committed his future to the club.”
Loosehead Tumy came through the Sharks DPP and academy system and represented Lancashire U18s, the North of England U18s and England at both U18 and U20 level.
The 21-year-old made his Sale debut against Wasps in 2022 and his first start against Exeter in the 2022/23 Premiership Rugby Cup.
Alex Sanderson said: “Tumy is a local lad who’s done really well this season. His mentality has completely changed since pre-season. He was in the academy but he’s really stepped up, worked hard on himself and performed really well against Leinster, the Stormers and La Rochelle.
“He’s proved that he can compete in the set-piece at the very highest level but his ability to carry and get around the park is his x-factor. We’re delighted that he sees his future here.”
Lock Ben, 22, grew up in Manchester but after spending his youth playing rugby league for Huddersfield, joined the Bristol Bears academy.
He joined Sharks during the 21/22 season and has gone on to become a key part of Alex Sanderson’s squad.
Alex said: “Ben was working nights in a factory until two years ago and his has been the most meteoric rise out of this group of four. I don’t think he gave himself much of a chance two years ago of making it.
“He’s had to learn the game and I don’t think there’s anyone more thirsty to learn. He’s put on 8kg, but he’s increased his aerobic capacity and knocked loads of time off his bronco. That shows how hard he’s working.
“Nothing has been handed to Ben. He’s had to graft for everything he’s got and now he’s got a real chance of being a very, very special player.”
England U20s centre Rekeiti joined the club, along with Asher, following the demise of former club Wasps. He made his first Premiership start in the recent defeat at home to Bristol Bears.
Ricky, as he’s known at the club, comes from strong rugby stock. His father, Vili, played 36 times for Tonga – including at the 2003 World Cup – while his two brothers have also played professionally: Suva for Coventry and Sonny for Northampton.
Alex said: “What we’re seeing on the pitch on matchday with Ricky is the tip of the iceberg compared to what we’re seeing in training. He cuts an inside line better than anyone in the squad and the more confident he gets, the more we’re going to see from him.
“He has a quiet way about him but he’s really loved in the dressing room. He’s a rare talent and we’re so happy that he’s committed himself to the club for the next four years.
“These young players are an absolute pleasure to coach and it says so much about what we’re trying to build that they see their futures with us.”