Updated: Monday, 22nd July 2019 @ 4:21pm

‘I didn’t even know the French captain!’: Sale Sharks’ Russian Ostrikov on life abroad

‘I didn’t even know the French captain!’: Sale Sharks’ Russian Ostrikov on life abroad

| By Tommy Wilson

Foreign imports have become a major trend in English sport, with Manchester becoming home to a huge proportion of global sports stars.

Manchester United and City have notably built up squads containing sportsmen from abroad, but rugby union team Sale Sharks also have a special one of their own.

Russian blindside flanker Andrei Ostrikov arrived at the Premiership club in 2011, following a five-year spell in France with SU Augen and Aurillac.

 

 

 

The 27-year-old was born in Moscow and is a mean presence, standing at 6ft 6 and weighing in at just under 18 stone.

“I didn't know many rugby players when I started to play,” Ostrikov told MM.

“Even when I came to France, I still didn't know a lot of players.

“When the young players said 'Look look! What's his name' at French captain Lionel Nallet, I didn't recognise him so I was very rookie in this area.”

Ostrikov, who scored a try in last weekend’s narrow European Cup loss to Saracens, admitted it was just chance that he ended up plying his trade in the sport after growing up in the Russian capital.

“I was playing basketball before and I'm from a part of Russia where people are like 'What is this rugby?’” he said.

 

 

 

“I was very tall but wasn't big. It's not a big sport there, but I had a few friends who play rugby. They always won the championship and my basketball team was not.

“My friend asked 'why do you not try to play rugby?' and I just tried and I liked it and I joined the team and now I'm here!” 

Ostrikov, who unfortunately missed out on playing in the 2011 Rugby World Cup due to a back injury, admitted the transition from France to England was seamless, even with the language barrier.

“It wasn't hard, because I used to live in France for five years so I just changed country but it's still the same apart from the language and weather.

“It's pretty similar between France and England for me. But in Russia it's colder! In France it was always too hot in summer and the beginning on autumn.

“I prefer to play in these conditions here in England."

The Russian, who has also graduated with a diploma in Tourist Management, admitted he was enjoying life in Manchester.

Ostrikov and his wife, originally from Latvia, have been living in the city for three years. 

“I like living in Manchester – there is everything that I need,” he said.

“It's a top place. I love England and it's a great atmosphere here.

“I never dreamed about playing somewhere in Europe, I just always wanted to join a professional Russian team, that's all.

“I never thought that I could play at that level. If someone asked me 10 years ago where would I be, I wouldn't believe this. I'm lucky.”

Main image courtesy of Sale Sharks via YouTube, with thanks.