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Premiership Rugby

Rugby in the blood

A Gallagher Premiership Rugby ball

In addition to James, the precociously-talented Gloucester winger who burst onto the England scene at the tail-end of the 2001/02 season with his scintillating brand of attacking rugby, 18-year-old Mark is also following in the footsteps of eldest brother Chris – the first Simpson-Daniel to go 'pro' – although injury has since curtailed his playing career.

"Having my brothers involved in professional rugby really helped to make my mind up about giving it a go myself," reveals Simpson-Daniel, who has already made a name for himself as very promising scrum-half. "Seeing what they were doing for a living made me want to follow them."

Simpson-Daniel has another role model whose experience he can draw on at Sale Sharks, in the solid form of Scotland No.9 Bryan Redpath, the scrum-half an inspirational figure for both club and country in recent seasons. Simpson-Daniel admits that the chance to observe the Scottish star in action at close-quarters is a huge bonus for an aspiring scrum-half.

"I don't think Bryan sees me as a threat, that's for sure!" jokes Simpson-Daniel. "He has to be one of the best in the business in world terms. Looking at Bryan's game makes me realise I've got a long way to go. Not only that, there's also some other excellent scrum-halves at the club – like Joe Bedford and Richard Wigglesworth – so it's going to be a very competitive environment."

But the young No.9 is keen to learn his trade at one of the most exciting teams in the Zurich Premiership which boasts a plethora of star players and an exciting all-action style of play.

"It's about improving as a player and working really hard and what better place to come to learn your trade," he says.

Simpson-Daniel will be attached to the Academy side at Sale, but has his sights set on maintaining his momentum in England's youth set-up, having already earned U18 caps for his country, as well as honours for Yorkshire and the North.

"The U19 World Championship is the big one for my age group and that's something I'd dearly like to get involved with, having played at U18 level already," says Simpson-Daniel. "There's also plenty of other representative rugby to aim for in addition to that, with composite sides selected from all England's various Academies."

Like his two brothers, Simpson-Daniel is a product of the famous Sedbergh school, a institution that has proved a fertile breeding ground for top rugby talent down the years with former England captains Wavell Wakefield and Will Carling, and current England centre Will Greenwood, former pupils at the Cumbrian academy.

"We certainly enjoy our rugby up at Sedbergh," says Simpson-Daniel. "And it also helps that the school now has a formal link with Sale Sharks so that certain players can go straight into the Academy set-up here."

And, if three Simpson-Daniels are not enough for you, the fourth, teenager Charlie, is already showing huge promise and looks likely to be a worthy addition to the 'family business'.


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