Sale Sharks haven’t had much success since they won the Premiership trophy back in 2006. In fact they have had more often been fighting for survival than they have been challenging for silverware. Over the past few seasons they have found themselves finishing around mid table safely but not quite doing enough to make the play offs.
They now have a settled squad of hard working players supplemented by some superstars of the global game such as South African scrum half Faf De Klerk and England winger Chris Ashton. They have also announced that they plan to bolster the squad with some big summer signings having already secured the services of South African second row powerhouse Lood De Jager.
Such investments are in line with the intentions laid out by Director of Rugby Steve Diamond in January. He stated that Sale intend to increase their costs on players by 25% so that they will fully exploit the £7 million salary cap. Sale are currently the lowest spenders in the league but this investment does suggest that the club are now ready to emerge as challengers to the dominance that has been experienced by Saracens and Exeter in recent years.
Diamond stated in January that club owners Simon Orange and Ged Mason are fully behind the push to return the club to the top, “We have set a vision with the owners of where we want to go with the business and we’ve got total buy in. I want to put together a backline and hopefully a forward pack that can challenge for European honours and Premiership honours in the next two or three years.”
It may take a season to integrate the new signings and truly make the Sharks a force once more but it does appear the foundations are now in place to bring success back to the north west. Importantly for Diamond, who has at times courted controversy over his sometimes old school methods, he does appear to have the backing of the owners of the club as the man to take on the project of making Sale a force once more. Fans of the club will certainly be heading into next season with much more optimism than they have had over the last few seasons and it will be interesting to see how they cope with the added pressure.
Written by Stefan Hamilton