Thursday, 4 September 2014

2014/15 Season Preview: Sale

Nickname: Sharks
Founded: 1861
Years in Top Tier: 21
Last Year: 6th in Prem (57 points), Amlin Challenge Cup Quarter Finals, Anglo Welsh Cup Group Stage
Europe: Champions Cup
Director of Rugby: Steve Diamond

In: Nathan Hines (Clermont), Chris Cuisiter (Glasgow), Alberto De Marchi (Treviso), Darren Fearn (Bedford), Luke McLean (Treviso), Magnus Lund (Biarritz), Shalva Mamukashvili (Armia-Georgia)
Out: Dwayne Peel (Bristol), Henry Thomas (Bath), James Gaskell (Wasps), Rob Miller (Wasps), Tom Holmes (Rotherham), Aston Croall (Blackheath), Tony Buckley (Kanturk), Krill Kulemin (Perpignan)
Ins: 7
Outs: 8

Sale were the surprise of last season finishing 6th after barely avoiding relegation the season before.  The big news coming from Salford this season is a move to Saturday kick offs, in a the slightly odd 2pm slot rather than 3pm, which is great news for people who like their rugby in the day light and on the weekend.

Transfer wise Sale have been busy snaring 6 internationals plus Bedford’s highly regarded former Newcastle prop Darren Fearn.  Alberto De Marchi arrives from Treviso which will presumably signal Eifion Lewis-Roberts spending greater time on the tighthead side of the scrum.  In the engine room the quietly power Russian workhorse Kril Kulemin has been replaced by Wagga Wagga’s favourite Scotsman Nathan Hines. 

Magnus Lund returns from a 6 year spell at Biarritz, and if he can avoid the injuries that spoiled his final year he may well be the pick of the bunch.  Shalva Mamukashvili becomes the Premiership’s first Georgian following in footsteps of Moldovan Vadim Cobilas, Romanian Paulica Ion and a handful of Russian players in crossing the old Iron Curtain.

Sale’s season will mainly rest on the form of Danny Cipriani.  He is the sole play maker in the squad, were he to be injured Sale would have to rely on the more prosaic stylings of Nick Macleod.  Last year Cipriani was mostly excellent and a backs against the wall win at Bath pointed to the great team spirit, and sly scrum tactics, they posses.

Tuitupou & Leota provide plenty of impetus in the back line but not a huge amount of nous, whilst Viliami Fihaki impressed in patches last season and will look to replace Wasps bound James Gaskill at 8.

If Sale can win 4 out of their opening 6 league games they look set for European Champions Cup action once again, but a European pool containing Clermont, Munster and Saracens will drain the batteries of a small squad.

Prediction: 8th

No comments:

Post a Comment