World Cup he­roes show our strength

Manchester Evening News - - SPORT -

LAST week’s Heineken Cham­pi­ons Cup game served as the per­fect way to wel­come our World Cup stars back from Ja­pan.

Faf De Klerk re­turned to us as a cham­pion with South Africa, with Tom Curry and Mark Wil­son run­ners-up for Eng­land.

We now boast two World Cup win­ners amongst our ranks, as Lood De Jager also earned a medal along­side Faf, but has had his return de­layed by a shoul­der in­jury.

You have to go back to 2003 to find the last time we had a Sharks’ World Cup win­ner in Ja­son Robin­son. To now have two win­ners and two run­ner­sup shows the qual­ity of our squad this season.

And that qual­ity helped us come out on top in that tricky home fix­ture against La Rochelle last week­end.

It was a phys­i­cal game re­sult­ing in their hooker, Pierre

Bour­garit, be­ing shown a straight red for foul play. For­tu­nately, we were too strong for them and won 25-15.

With two games played in our Cham­pi­ons Cup pool so far, we’re se­cond with five points on the board, a great po­si­tion to be in at this early stage of the com­pe­ti­tion.

The La Rochelle vic­tory was a mas­sive tick in the box af­ter pick­ing up a bonus point in a nar­row loss to Glas­gow War­riors, so to be well in with a chance of pro­gress­ing out of the pool in our first season back in the com­pe­ti­tion is re­ally en­cour­ag­ing.

Look­ing at the Premier­ship table re­minds me why I con­sider it one of the best leagues in the world.

In oth­ers, you can al­most guar­an­tee a win here and there, but this isn’t pos­si­ble in our com­pe­ti­tion.

The of the Premier­ship is clear by look­ing at the current stand­ings, as Bris­tol Bears, a club that only came into the di­vi­sion two years ago, are top.

Sim­i­larly, Lon­don Irish are sixth and in great form in their first season back.

With this in mind, we’re ex­pect­ing a tough test at Worcester to­mor­row, a game which will be played on their 4G sur­face pitch.

That brings its own chal­lenge, as our lads only play on ar­ti­fi­cial pitches once ev­ery two or three months. They of­ten pro­duce fast-paced games, so it should be a good spec­ta­tor ex­pe­ri­ence and, hope­fully, end in a good re­sult for Sharks. We of­fi­cially wel­comed our World Cup he­roes back this week with a Sharks Busi­ness Club event in part­ner­ship with King­dom Group, held at Bent­ley Manch­ester.

Faf, Tom and Mark were all in at­ten­dance to meet with our part­ners and went through a Q&A to dis­cuss their in­cred­i­ble ex­pe­ri­ences in Ja­pan. We’re al­ready see­ing the pos­i­tive ef­fects of their World Cup success putting us on the map, as we’ve also se­cured a new part­ner­ship with Toshiba Air Con­di­tion­ing. From their Stock­port base, the com­pany is con­tin­u­ing its long-run­ning sup­port for rugby by be­com­ing our big screen part­ners for the season.

Faf de Klerk re­turned to Sale action against La Rochelle

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