Sale confident in fringe players as Rob Webber returns

Date published: September 7 2020

Steve Diamond is backing his “Dirty Dozen” to prove able deputies as he resigns himself to losing virtually Sale’s entire South African contingent for the start of next season.

Only Cobus Wiese of the Sharks’ Springboks has not been picked in an initial training squad that will begin preparations for the Rugby Championship once the Premiership has finished.

Diamond knows that those players involved in the southern hemisphere tournament will miss the opening rounds of the 2020/21 league campaign, which begins on November 20.

But the Sale director of rugby is reassured by the way his less established stars performed in dispatching Wasps a fortnight ago – a result that reignited the club’s title challenge.

“Every South African I’ve got apart from Cobus Wiese has been called up, but we don’t lose them until the end of the season,” Diamond said.

“Early next season we’ll have two league games and two European games where something will have to give.

“But my midweek team went out and beat Wasps who are beating everybody at the moment – I call them the ‘Dirty Dozen’.

“I’ve got a good, strong squad who will scrap in those first two games if I’ve not got the players.”

Fears that South Africa World Cup winner Lood de Jager suffered a significant shoulder injury against Leicester on Saturday have receded.

De Jager underwent reconstructive surgery to both shoulders last year and is due to have a scan on Monday afternoon, but the initial prognosis is promising.

“The X-rays are very positive, there doesn’t seem to be any distress, but we’re waiting for him to get the MRI scan and then we’ll get him to see one of the specialists,” Diamond said.

“We’re fairly optimistic. He won’t be playing in the next 10 days, but our medics are saying there is no structural damage.

“There may be some ligament damage, but we won’t know that until after the scan.”

England flanker Tom Curry has begun the return to play protocols for concussion and while he will miss Wednesday’s clash with Saracens, he could return to face Bath this weekend.

Sale, meanwhile, have announced that their former hooker Rob Webber will rejoin them until the end of this season.

The 34-year-old England international was appointed forwards coach at Championship club Jersey earlier this year.

Diamond said: “We have brought Rob back in as a precautionary measure. As we approach the business end of the season, we don’t want to get caught out with a lack of options in our pack.”