TOP BAR - Fixtures

Paul Deacon already making an impact at Sale Sharks

Paul Deacon admits there has been something of a learning curve for him since making the switch from rugby league, but the Sale Sharks coach is convinced he is already having an impact on the squad.

It has been an up-and-down season for Sale as they currently lie eighth in the Aviva Premiership Rugby table with five rounds to go, but are through to the European Rugby Challenge Cup quarter-finals to face Montpellier early next month.

Sharks have made the AJ Bell Stadium a fortress once again this year to the extent that they are yet to lose a league game there, although they have struggled slightly on the road.

Former rugby league star Deacon – who retired from playing in 2011 – moved from Wigan Warriors last summer, where he was assistant coach, to become attack coach at Sale.

Such is the 37-year-old’s experience of rugby as a whole that he was able to make a difference straight away, despite having to learn the nuances of the XV-man code.

And Deacon claims he is loving the challenge as well as the constant learning process for him and the players.

“It’s been really enjoyable. I’m still learning a new game but so far so good – I’ve enjoyed it a lot,” said Deacon.

“The lads and the staff have been great. I feel now that the team is taking on what I’m trying to bring to the club and we need to keep working hard and improving.

“I knew I would have some learning to do and the game is totally different but it has opened my eyes a bit about how complex the sport can be.

“But the actual transition from league to union on the coaching side has been quite seamless really and that surprised me a bit.

“The rest of the staff have been great, the lads have been great and have took on what I’ve been asking them to do so from that side of it it’s been easier than what I was expecting but the complexity of the game has been harder to learn.

“The players have taken on my ideas and are trying to implement them. There’s still a lot of work to be done and I’m not happy with certain things.

“I say to the players every week ‘how can we improve?’ It’s an ongoing process. If we become in the next three years the highest points scorers in the league there’ll still be ways to improve so that’s my philosophy- we’ve always got things to work on.”

Deacon isn’t the only former rugby league man at Sale with fellow coach Mike Forshaw – a former team-mate at Bradford Bulls – another convert.

Forshaw has previously stated that he believes Deacon will become one of the best coaches in Aviva Premiership.

The former Great Britain scrum-half claims Forshaw has helped ease his transition but that Sharks’ senior players have also been a valuable resource.

“Yeah of course, the coaches have [been giving me advice] and the players too,” added Deacon.

“I’ve lent on the experienced players at times and asked for their opinion on things, sounding them out and seeing what they think.

“‘If I did this, what would that mean?’ ‘Can I do this off a line-out?’ All these different types of things that’s what I’ve been learning.

“I’ve asked a lot of questions but everybody’s been forthcoming with the answer.”

If you want to be at the world's biggest club rugby final, this year's Aviva Premiership Rugby Final on 28 May, tickets are still available from premiershiprugby.com/final.
 

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