Ever since Alex Sanderson took over the Sale Sharks they progressed at a fast rate. Winning is now part of their DNA and the only goal should be Premiership glory.
Sale Sharks 2021/22 Gallagher Premiership Focus
The only issue comes in depth. There is a considerable drop in star quality below the likes of Faf de Klerk, Lood de Jager, and Manu Tuilagi. Two out of three of those names will not be present at the beginning of the new season, so the men who step into those big shoes are the key factors to a successful 2021/22.
If Sale can avoid injuries and remain competitive in the international windows, the play-offs will again be in their sights.
While the core of this Sale Sharks team is South African, it has been recognized as having one of the biggest packs in the league. In 2021/22 they will look to implement a similar style of pure forward domination.
Add to that exciting backs like Simon Hammersley, Byron McGuigan, and Marland Yarde (see main photo), it could be the perfect mix.
With the talent available, and the fact Alex Sanderson is a born winner, the Sale side will give 100%. With him and his experienced coaching group at the helm, anything is possible.
Big departures balanced by Key Signings
Only three players from the 2020/2021 season have exited the semi-finalists, all of which are in the front row. Prop Will-Griff John has joined Welsh side Scarlets as he looks to stake a claim in a fresh-faced United Rugby Championship. Fellow props Jake Cooper-Woolley and the Russian beast Valery Morozov will also not be packing down again at the AJ Bell.
There are also key signings to celebrate. Head coach Alex Sanderson will be delighted to have recruited three colossal front rows as replacements. The pick of the bunch is 29-year-old South African Nick Schonert who joins Sale on a three-year deal.
Schonert is English qualified and was picked by Eddie Jones for the tour to Argentina in 2017. However, he was unable to travel due to injury. Nevertheless, the former Worcester man will feel right at home with plenty of fellow South Africans around him in the pack. Tommy Taylor and Simon McIntyre have also been brought in to replenish the front-row options.
Most Valuable Players
The talisman for the Sale Sharks side is Faf De Klerk, and this year is no different. Before his injury in the second Lions Test, he was one of South Africa’s key figureheads in turning around the series in favour of the Springboks. Diminutive in stature, he punches well above his weight and was involved in 20 Premiership games last season.
His half-back partnership with AJ MacGinty proved to be one of the best in the league as Sale made the play-offs.
Sanderson will be expecting nothing less this incoming campaign.
Faf de Klerk is by far the best defensive scrum-half on the planet and in recent years his kicking game has moved into the same category. The Curry and du Preez brothers will need to step up in his absence – due to return by December, fans will hope. He set the example, so imagine similar aggression to be evident in Sale’s defence.
How will Sale line up in 2021/22?
Due to the strong recruitment in terms of retaining and enrolling of players, the Sale team will remain unchanged from their run to last season’s play-offs. The big boost is that AJ MacGinty will be available for the start of the season. He was one of Sale’s main reasons for reaching the semi-finals at Sandy Park but sadly he missed it due to a meniscus injury.
Another positive will be the potential of the first full season of Manu Tuilagi. After sitting out the summer internationals Manu will be looking to stake a claim for the England 13 jersey. Will he finally stay injury-free? Any Premiership fan will hope so.
In the pack, a massive boost comes in the form of Lood de Jager. Injuries since the Rugby World Cup meant Sale were unable to see how good their star signing is. This season, however, it will feel like a brand-new signing as the 50 capped Springbok brings a wealth of experience. In the back row, both Curry brothers will of course be an ever-present threat to any opposition.
So the likelihood is that Sale Sharks are there, or thereabouts when the final playoffs spots are determined in June.
Gallagher Premiership Round One fixture vs. Bath – AJ Bell Stadium, September 18
“Main photo credit”
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