Sale Sharks have exceeded a lot of people’s expectations this year and World Cup winner Will Greenwood believes their integration of youngsters has been key.
With just two games remaining this season, Sale lie fifth in the Aviva Premiership Rugby standings meaning they are on course for a Champions Cup spot next term and still have a slim chance to break into the top four play-off spots.
The Sharks have played exciting rugby this term as a number of talented young English players have come to the fore – conducted by the mercurial Danny Cipriani at fly-half.
Cipriani will move to Wasps at the end of the season but Greenwood – who started the 2003 World Cup final for England – has nothing but respect for the way Sale boss Steve Diamond has got the best out of his troops including Cipriani.
“I’ve really enjoyed how Sale have gone about their season; they’ve got some really good young English lads there,” said Greenwood, who was at St Michael & St Martin Catholic Primary School in Hounslow to take part in an Aviva Tackling Numbers session with players from his former club Harlequins.
“They’ve got Sam James in the midfield, and Mike Haley at the back. Tommy Taylor as well. Then there’s Nev Edwards on the wing who has also gone under the radar.
“Steve [Diamond] has managed to mix those English guys with the foreigners, and in the middle of all that has been Danny Cipriani who has been amazing.
“He only has two more games at Sale before he joins Wasps and he will want to be on that plane for England’s summer tour to Australia.”
Aviva Tackling Numbers, in partnership with Premiership Rugby, is an innovative programme for 7-9 year olds which makes learning about numbers and financial education fun and engaging.
Through the programme, which is delivered by the 12 Premiership Rugby clubs, 64,000 children have been introduced to maths and numbers outside of the regular classroom environment.
Sale are battling with sixth-placed Northampton Saints and Greenwood’s old club, seventh-placed Harlequins, for that all-important top-six berth.
They finish the season by hosting Gloucester and travelling to Newcastle Falcons and Greenwood is predicting a finale not to be missed.
“Northampton and Sale aren’t competing for a trophy now, and that will come into the run-in I’m sure,” added Greenwood.
“All those guys who have niggles will be able to come back fit and strong and able to attack those last few weeks of the season.
“Quins may have the hardest run-in, but all of those coaches will be backing their team to be the one that gets in.
“Unfortunately three into two doesn’t go, so a really good side will miss out.”
Will Greenwood was speaking at an Aviva Tackling Numbers session. In partnership with Premiership Rugby, #AvivaTacklingNumbers helps 7-9 year olds put foundations in place for better financial skills later in life through the power of rugby. Take a maths test at aviva.co.uk/tacklingnumbers for the chance to win Aviva Premiership Rugby Final tickets.