“You’ve got to give me some of the credit!” says a smiling Mike Haley on a dreary February day.
He’s not talking about his post handling skills.
— Fiona Tomas (@Fi_Tomas_) February 21, 2017
He’s referring to the try-scoring sensation that is Denny Solomona: a win against Premiership leaders Wasps last weekend saw the Sharks extend their match-winning streak to five, courtesy of a Solomona first-half hat-trick.
The 23-year-old has been pivotal in inspiring his side’s wining mentality of late following 10 straight losses between November and January.
Solomona is only the second Sale player to score a Premiership first-half treble and the first for 20 years since Tom Beim in 1997.
More remarkably, he is the first Premiership player to score in his first five league matches.
The former London Broncos player appears to be unfazed by his controversial move to the AJ Bell, having hastily joined from Castleford Tigers back in November. But it makes his scintillating start to life at Sale all the more impressive.
— Denny_Solomona (@DennySolomona) December 31, 2016
“I think he’s handled the situation really well,” Haley told MM.
“I can’t really comment on the situation because I don’t really know what happened, but as far as I know Denny’s been absolutely brilliant for us, he’s been committed and it’s shown in his performances by getting a hat-trick against the team who are top of the league.”
Few Sharks fans would have dared to dream that Solomona would have scored a Premiership try on average every 49 minutes so far since his contentious move.
The wing can be a lonely place for a side lacking confidence and a winning mentality, not least for a player fresh from his high-flying, record-breaking league days at Castleford, where he scored 42 tries last season.
Throw a whole new set of RFU below-the-chest tackling directives into the mix and you potentially have a recipe for disaster with an ex-league bulldozer in your team.
“He’s a good lad off and on the pitch, he’s great,” added Haley.
“I get on with him quite well, as we’re winger and fullback together all the time.
“All you have to do is look at his record at league and he’s unbelievable. At the end of the day he’s a finisher, if you give him half a chance, he’s going to do it.
“It’s great that he’s converted so fast, everyone at Sale knows how good he’s been for us.”
And for the club who nurtured Jason Robinson into one of union’s finest ever cross-coders to grace the pitch, Solomona, it seems, is already following in ‘Billy Whizz’s’ footsteps and has overshadowed fellow cross-coder Josh Charnley.
It’s not only the attacking prowess that the former London Broncos player has displayed, but his defensive ability too, such as bundling Willie Le Roux into touch while Wasps were heading up a resurgence on Sunday.
“Denny reads the game so well defensively and attack, he’s always looking for work around the field and his try talent speaks for itself really,” Mark Jennings told MM.
“He pops up wherever he needs to be to score which is what you want from any winger. He leads from the front and you don’t always see a winger with good defensive ability.
“He’s shown what he can do in the last five weeks and he’s only going to get better. It’s crazy for a guy that’s come over from league.”
Image courtesy of Denny Solomona via Twitter, with thanks.