TOP BAR - Fixtures

Diamond content with quiet summer at Sale Sharks

The revolving door at Sale Sharks has been largely stationary this summer and director of rugby Steve Diamond insists that is just the way he wants it.

While other Aviva Premiership Rugby clubs have undergone serious recruitment drives in the off-season, Diamond has been careful to pick and choose his targets.

The AJ Bell Stadium outfit have lost some experience from the squad that finished seventh last season, with Nathan Hines and Mark Cueto retiring, while Michael Paterson and Luke McLean were among those to move on.

However, Sale have replaced much of that international experience as well as ensuring some of the club’s brightest prospects – such as England age-group duo Ciaran Parker and James Mitchell – progress into the senior setup.

And Diamond believes that youthful exuberance could play an important role this season as they seek to return to the top six.

“We only brought three new players in and we only lost three players, so we don’t really need much time to gel,” he said.

“Peter Stringer, Brian Mujati and Bryn Evans have come in – three internationals, so they know the stuff pretty well and they have got into it.

“The biggest problem we have at Sale is retention, not recruitment. We can always get decent players but the retention of our young players is difficult.

“We managed to retain all of them this year and if you combine that with the influence of Dan Braid, Dave Seymour, Sam Tuitupou and the three internationals that have joined, hopefully you have got a squad that understands what it is doing.

“In the four years I’ve been here, we have finished in Europe three times. It was disappointing last year, the way we just fell away at the end of the season with the last couple of results – London Irish away was a killer for us, really.

“But at the end of the day we run off a small squad, the Champions Cup does take it out of you physically and so a year out will see us regroup and hopefully get back there next season.”

The 2015/16 campaign could hardly begin with a more difficult test, however, as Sale travel to Aviva Premiership Rugby champions Saracens on Saturday.

“It’s always a really competitive game down there,” added Diamond. “We have got to go down there knowing we need a top-class performance to get anything out of the game.”

The 2015-16 Aviva Premiership Rugby Season kicks off on 16 October. To see all of the fixtures click here.

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