Updated: Friday, 13th September 2019 @ 2:25pm

Local talent to provide home comforts for Sale Sharks - Gaskell

Local talent to provide home comforts for Sale Sharks - Gaskell

By Barrie White

Former Sale Sharks captain James Gaskell is convinced that a local heartbeat will be an advantage to Steve Diamond’s side.

The Sharks kick-off their home campaign when they host highly-rated London Irish in the Aviva Premiership on Friday night, determined to build on yesterday’s 17-12 defeat to Worcester.  

Gaskell – the club’s youngest ever captain at the age of 20 – believes that the squad of young local players will give attract local fans and make Edgeley Park a fortress.   

“In this climate, people can’t afford to go out and spend massive amounts of money for big-name players and if you look closer to home, you’ll find there’s actually a lot of talent,” said Gaskell, who made a scoring debut for the England Saxons in January.

“If you look at the first team squad this year, it is all local boys, or at least the majority are so it would be good to get the local community involved.

“For example, there are boys from Cumbria; Will Addison, myself and Tom Holmes are from Sandbach – if we can get a massive community like that and a real atmosphere, then Edgeley Park is going to be a tough place to go to on a Friday night.” 

Gaskell, who can play as a lock or a flanker, was offered a new deal by the club he supported as a boy, and he is delighted there is a homely feel to the former Premiership champions.

The 21-year-old has been replaced as captain by former Munster centre Sam Tuitupou, who was one of many players brought in by new coach Diamond this summer, but the England Under-20 international admitted he would be interested in the job again.  

“I’d love to captain Sale again as it is my local club and it would be a very proud moment,” said Gaskell, who was handed the armband by former All Black Mike Brewer. 

“But I think at this moment in time, it should be left down to boys who have got the experience of having being there and done that and really know how to lead a team forward. 

“Sale is my local team and when I started playing rugby about 13 or 14, they were the first team that I heard about and this is the team I’ve always wanted to play for. 

“When Steve Diamond offered me a new contract this year, it was the easiest answer of my life.  It means a lot to play for Sale.  

“The young lads that around are all from the area so we’re building a real homegrown culture again so it’s exciting times.”