One of the major plus points that came out of the trials and tribulations of last season was the ‘blooding’ of several young players due to injuries and lack of form. And so the likes of Tommy Taylor, Ross Harrison, Henry Thomas and Will Cliff were all immersed into the speed and physicality that is Premiership rugby. It is, therefore, no surprise that they all now find themselves important parts of the first team squad with that experience under their belts.
The pleasing thing for the supporters is that all four of these players came through the club’s academy. Home grown talent that gives the squad and the club an identity. Here’s the academy’s mission statement as it appears on the team’s website:
“To provide the North West’s young ‘high’ potential rugby players with the greatest opportunity to fulfill their future playing potential.
To ensure Sale Sharks have the best possible source of home grown rugby talent in the UK.
And to provide North West rugby with the best possible talent for its future growth and development.”
Here are four more players who will be hoping to achieve just that:
1. Josh Beaumont (Lock)
Yes, his dad is that bloke off of a Question of Sport! Having a father who was one of the game’s greats might bring with it added pressure, but at 21 and 6′ 7″ there’s certainly something in his genres. He only appeared in two games last season but from what we saw he might of inherited some of his dad’s talent too. He started the league game against Wasps this season at number eight but unfortunately left the field after 19 minutes with a foot injury so it may be some time till we see him again.
2. Mark Jennings (Centre/Wing)
Already famous at the club for being their youngest ever signing (on his 16th Birthday!), he also made his debut last season playing in both the Premiership and Heineken Cup. In fact he scored a try against Cardiff Blues on his first ever European appearance. He was also a member of the successful England Under-20 Six Nations team and was also named in the squad for this summers Under-20 World Cup but had to pull out due to injury and it’s injuries that have plagued the start of his season. Did make a try scoring return this month though for the Jets and looks to have a big future for both club and country.
3. Tom Holmes ( Lock)
A tribute to never giving up, he was originally let go from the academy in 2009 due to injury. But after a successful spell in South Africa he was resigned and went on to make 14 appearances last season. Good in the loose but even more impressive in the line out he surely must be a candidate for future pack and lineout leader. Has already been around the first team squad this season and recently came off the bench in the Challenge Cup game against Biarritz.
4. Nathan Fowles (Scrum Half)
Now firmly established as the third choice scrum half at the club he is a player who has benefited from the loan system. Successful spells at Preston Grasshoppers, Flyde and Border Bulldogs in the under-21 Currie Cup saw him grow as a player, culminating in 11 appearances last season, including two as a starter. Very quick in and around the scrum and with a good pass it can only be good for him that he sees Dwayne Peel everyday in training. Has already made 2 substitute appearances this season.
With a stronger depth of squad and hopefully (touch wood!) smaller injury list it might be harder for these four players to make the impact of those last season but look for them to get game time in the LV Cup and Challenge Cup. And if one or two of them do make it big remember where your heard of them first…