You cannot move for young, up-and-coming talent at Sale Sharks – and centre Sam James believes his own breakthrough year is testament to the whole team.
He may have to wait a little longer for senior England recognition but forward Josh Beaumont has made the jump as a new member of the 33-man Elite Player Squad.
And while James continues to raise eyebrows during his first full season with Sale, he admits he’d be hard pressed to do so without the players around him.
He said: “Josh Beaumont, he’s a great player, he breaks the first tackle every time and it’s his picking it up from the eight position that gets us 15-20 metres beyond the game line in the first phase.
“His skill out wide too is second to none, he used to be a fly-half and he’ll probably be the first to tell you that.
“He’s got a great set of hands and he likes the occasional kick as well.
“It’s not just Beaumont, people like TJ (Ioane) too, he creates holes everywhere he goes.
“Vadim (Cobilas) is a great carrier. Bryn Evans, Millsy (Jonathan Mills), Andrei (Ostrikov), the list goes on and on in terms of players who can get us that front foot ball for Danny Cipriani to then work his magic.
“Once you’ve got the forwards doing what they do and then Danny executing the set plays that put us all in space, that has made the whole team click over the past couple of weeks.”
Having booked their place in the European Rugby Challenge Cup quarter-finals, Sale returned to league action with a thumping 38-10 win over London Irish last weekend.
Sharks have since been hit by the news that another one of their exciting youngsters, hooker Tommy Taylor, will be departing for Wasps at the end of the season.
However, James is in no doubt that Taylor will leave the club on a high as Sale, currently in seventh with a game in hand, set their sights on the top half.
He added: “He’s a big loss for us and will be, or in fact already is, an England prospect for the next couple of years.
“He’s a threat around the park too, not just his set pieces.
“His breakdown work is like having another back row out there so we’ll miss him a lot.
“Tommy always wears his heart on his sleeve so he’s always going to give his all and do his best for the team.
“That will continue until the end of the season and we’d like to see the benefits of the forwards’ progression towards the end of the season.
“I know there’s a big chunk of games now but I think we have the right balance to push through and get a couple of away wins.”