Amidst one of the most disappointing seasons in the clubs history last year, one of the few positives to be taken from the campaign was the emergence of some exciting young talent from Sale’s academy. The likes of Ross Harrison and Tommy Taylor became main stays of the first team whilst Henry Thomas went on to be recognised internationally on England’s summer tour of Argentina.
The club look set to put the disappointment of last season behind them with a renewed focus on developing young stars from within rather than buying in ‘star names’. These six players could really help to make or break Sale’s season this year…
Despite being a relative unknown at the beginning of the season, front row injuries early in the season say Taylor thrown straight into the heart of the Sale scrum were he became a mainstay of the team for much of the season. Now a well seasoned campaigned Taylor looks set to compete with Marc Jones for the number 2 shirt this season with his athleticism, line-out throwing and ability at the breakdown making him a strong contender for England age-group honours. Oh and did we mention, he’s also more than capable of filling in at 7?
Despite seeming to have been around the Sale first team for years, Will Addison is still only 20 years of age. Unfortunately the last few seasons have seen him blighted by injury and resulted in him being limited to only a handful of games. Although primarily deployed on the wing to date, Addison is turning into an accomplished centre for Sale and looks set to compete with his more experience team mates for a starting shirt. His pace and quick hands make him an ideal compliment to the more straight running centres like Sam Tuitupou and Johnny Leota.
Another young centre set to battle it out in Sale’s midfield this season, Andy Forsyth joined from Leicester this summer, much to the disappointment of the Tigers support. Despite being a relative unknown in the Premiership he joins Sale with a big reputation having earned England age-grade honours earlier in his career. Able to mix it up in the centres with a strong kicking game and ability to run the ball Forsyth should add another dimension to Sale’s attack.
The young loosehead forward became a revelation last season when, like Tommy Taylor, he was thrust into the front row due to a number of key injuries throughout the squad. Despite a shaky start Harrison impressed with each performance this season helping to stabilise a faltering Sale scrum and performing well in the loose. With nearly a full season of first team experience under his belt he looks set to go from strength-to-strength this year and at just 20 years of age still has years ahead of him to become a the cornerstone of the Sale scrum.
Yet another youngster thrust into the first team after injuries to more established performers left the club short of options. Fowles helped introduce a much more direct approach to Sale’s attacking play using sniping runs and fast passing from the base of rucks to eventually get the backline moving and in the end scoring some impressive tries. Fowles was also one of the stand-out performers in this years JP Morgan 7s tournament showing attacking intent throughout and causing the opposition problems all over the field.
One of the few Sale players currently making a name for himself at international level, Jennings was unfortunate to miss out on England U20’s triumph this summer because of injury. Jennings was limited to only a few run-outs for Sale this year but impressed on each outing. Equally able on both the wing and at centre Jennings is another young back able to mix up his style of play and seemingly score tries out of nowhere. Rumoured to be on England’s radar, Jennings could play a pivotal role for Sale Sharks this season.
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*whilst it was tempting to include the likes of Henry Thomas and Rob Miller I felt they are already well enough established that they can no longer be considered “rising stars”