Newly-installed director of rugby Steve Diamond knows all too well that every game is crucial from now until the end of the season if he is to save Sale Sharks’ season, starting with London Irish on Friday.
While Bryan Redpath was removed from the hotseat, the club CEO Diamond has stepped into the breach for a side that have lost their first seven games in the Aviva Premiership.
A losing bonus point against Worcester Warriors last weekend doubled his side’s points tally in the league but with an in-form Irish coming to the north west this weekend it does not get any easier for the Sharks.
Irish came within a last minute try of downing defending champions Harlequins last time out and before that had comfortably disposed of high flyers Northampton Saints in the league.
And Diamond has called on his troops to turn their fortunes around at the Salford City Stadium on Friday before their disastrous run gets out of hand.
“London Irish is as big as the Worcester game,” he said.
“When you’re at the bottom of the league, you don’t get your penalty tries. You get a lad scoring in the corner but he’s taken out with an illegal tackle, that’s what happens when you’re bottom of the league.
“An away bonus point was good for us at the end. The mentality of the side, from last week, is to win ten games, but when we don’t win, we come away with a bonus point.
“I’m confident we can get off the bottom – I’m confident we can push up the league. We have a good playing squad, who have been coached very well, but the top two inches haven’t come off for us, and that’s what we need to get right. That’s not isolating anybody, it’s getting the ingredients right.
“It needs a steady hand on the ship and that’s why I find myself coming back to the training and coaching. If we thought there were better people out there to do it, then myself and the owners would make that decision.”
The two sides each won their respective home game when they met last season, while Sale are going for successive home wins over London Irish for the first time since 1999.
And Exiles scrum-half Darren Allinson insists he and his teammates will be doing their best to ensure that Sale’s struggles continue.
“Sale are a similar team to us really, they’re a team in transition who are struggling,” he said.
“They made a lot of changes and I guess we adapted to our situation quicker than they have but we all remember what it was like to be in that situation.
“When you are desperate for a win, like we were just a couple of weeks ago, you can be a dangerous side to play so we have to be wary of that.
“The league table is misleading because Sale are a good team and will want to bounce back with everything that’s been happening there recently so we need to make sure they make sure we don’t get complacent.
“It’s a tough place to go and play, especially on a Friday night, so we have to make sure we don’t slip up and play the sort of game we played against Quins – if we do that, we should get the job done.”
Referee: Sean Davey (109th Premiership game)
Assistant Referees: Andrew Watson, Alan Hughes