Steve Diamond is adamant Sale Sharks will soon hit the right notes after an underwhelming start to their Aviva Premiership Rugby season, but admits it will be much tougher without influential scrum-half Peter Stringer.
The 38-year-old tore his bicep against Worcester Warriors last weekend and may be out for three months, which could give Welshman Mike Phillips a chance to stake his claim for a starting berth.
Stringer joined the Sharks from Bath Rugby ahead of last season, and his hot form helped him win the club’s Player of the Year award.
And director of rugby Diamond says his side will miss the former Ireland international, who has made a massive impact at AJ Bell Stadium both on and off the field.
“Peter has an injury most recently but apart from that it has been iconic how he goes about his business,” he said.
“He is coming up to 39 and played against Worcester at the weekend and was outstanding for the first 50 minutes.
“He is a one-off in a lot of extremes. He watches what he eats and he does not drink and all the rest of it which you have to do if you want to reach the top and stay at the top.
“He is 38 – it is not as if he is putting his boots away at 32, 33.
“He is inspirational for everyone. He first said when I met him about coming two years ago ‘I don’t want to be a mentor for 19-year-olds, I want to play’ and we did not need to have another conversation, we signed the piece of paper.
“That is attitude, that is ambition. He is not here for a pension.”
Sale opened their campaign with a narrow defeat at Newcastle Falcons, before beating Harlequins, losing to Gloucester Rugby and drawing with Worcester.
But Diamond is adamant he has the right blend of experience and youthful exuberance in his squad, as they gear up to host Leicester Tigers on Saturday.
And the 48-year-old believes the tide will soon turn, and that they will discover the form which earned them a European Champions Cup spot for this season.
“We have got a young lad, Paolo Odogwu on the wing at the minute who has come from nowhere,” he said.
“He has started every game for us and by all means is not looked out of place in the Premiership.
“The beauty of what we do, we run a different model to a lot of other clubs, but what we do is give people opportunities and if they are good enough they take it with both hands.
“Josh [Beaumont] is a lead example as captain now three years after coming in and Will Addison too, but to be fair it has been a fairytale because you do need to have some solidity in there.
“That is what the likes of [Sam] Tuitupou brings us and Mike Phillips and Dave Seymour, so we have a good team – a really combative team and when we hit a bit of form we will be even better.”