Sale Sharks fly-half Dan Mugford only has one Aviva Premiership Rugby appearance to his name, but he insists that Steve Diamond is filling him with confidence.
Mugford made his Sharks debut in their 19-17 loss to Newcastle Falcons on Friday night and although the ex-Nottingham stand-off missed a last-minute kick that would have sealed a comeback victory, it was his introduction at half-time that helped unlock the previously solid Falcons defence.
A deft grubber kick put Byron McGuigan in for a try on his Aviva Premiership debut, while he had shown good hands to get the ball away for Johnny Leota earlier in the evening.
Though he could not help put the finishing touches on an otherwise stirring comeback, Diamond has left him confident that he can make a positive impact if given the chance against Harlequins at the AJ Bell Stadium on Friday night.
“Unfortunately I missed that kick and if it happened again I am confident I can slot them over. I think Dimes is confident in me to do that,” the 24-year-old said.
“We wouldn’t have wanted the game to get to that stage, we would have preferred to have put in a performance that we could be proud of and then you wouldn’t have to have a kick to win it in the last minute.
“His main message was that we shouldn’t have let the game get to that stage and just for me to keep my head up and to keep doing what I am doing.
“It is massively important to have that support, he has given me a huge amount of confidence coming in here. We are all pushing each other here and the coaches are pushing me to become better and I feel like I am improving as a player every time I get on the training field.
“It was fantastic to get out there for my Aviva Premiership debut and to get a half under my belt and have an impact on the game in the second half was a good thing.
“I feel they are confident in my ability to go out there and do the best job possible, so that when I get on the field I’m ready to take on whatever’s in front of me.”
Harlequins travel north to the AJ Bell Stadium on Saturday knowing that only Gloucester Rugby managed to turn Diamond’s side over at home last year.
Mugford has yet to experience Sale’s passionate home fans yet, but he is comfortable in his new surroundings and ready to try and turn over John Kingston’s side.
“There’s plenty of room for improvement, but I didn’t find it too stressful and I am looking forward to getting on the field again,” he said.
“You always have to be confident at home, we’re looking forward to it and having our support there. That is a great thing.
“It is a step up but I felt that I dealt with that OK, we didn’t perform as a team and each individual can probably look at their performance and pick out bits they would like to improve – myself included.
“Hopefully I can kick on from there and show on a more regular basis what I can do.”