The Boy is back in town - @rugbysalesharks catch up with Will Cliff!

The Boy is back in town - @rugbysalesharks catch up with Will Cliff!

e Boy is Back in TownTh

Lots of new signings for Sale Sharks this season and two notable returnees in Marc Jones and Will Cliff, back from Bristol so it seemed a good chance to catch up with Will and see what is like to return to his old stomping ground.

Will was full of praise for what he’s learnt at Bristol and the chance that they gave him with more game time than he was getting at Sale. Different playing styles for the two teams and different strengths so he clearly learnt a lot in the time he was there. 

However in leaving he realised just how much he’d enjoyed being at Sale, particularly keeping in touch with the club’s developments and the new atmosphere generated by the new owners. He says it definitely feels different, and indeed Simon Orange pops in whilst we’re chatting on the Carrington balcony! So did he approach Sale or did they approach him? Well he’d kept in touch with his old mates and knowing he was coming to the end of his contract Dimes put in a call, which Will was happy to answer. Along with Marc Jones – just as well they’re good friends!

Will has settled back in quickly, linking up with his old Academy mates Jennings, Sam James, Mike Haley and Will Addison, who is shinning in his new captain’s role and providing a lot of support to all the ‘new ‘ boys. Will’s enjoying the new training regime and has been impressed with the investment into the coaching staff in his absence – not just rugby but into strength and conditioning. Dimes pays great attention to detail and this is strengthening the team.

All positive so far so I ask him what went wrong last Saturday. Clearly there were too many errors that cost the team and particularly in defence. Not surprisingly a lot of time has been spent on defence since then! I tell Will I thought he’s made a difference when he came on (well I did!) and he tells me he wishes he’d come on a lot earlier but he’d enjoyed the game time. Is he playing on Friday? Back on the bench but hoping to come on earlier. 

Anyone he’s particularly excited to be playing with? Enjoying playing with his old mates but after being pushed concedes that Faf is a positive and enthusiastic team mate, who he enjoys watching in training and feels has a lot to teach him. 

Finally another new Dad (and I’m not counting Sam James puppy here) – is there a parent support group? Will confesses that his wife is undertaking most of the childcare, particularly early morning but Yes he’s been chatting with Josh (Charnley) and Byron (McGuigan) and the family had greatly enjoyed meeting each other at the UKFest last weekend.

Finally he’s still sporting his quiff so not succumbed to the current Sale trend for the clippers. Now its been pointed out he thinks he could be missing out, although personally I’m not so sure!

Just time for a quick dodge into Dimes briefing:

No injuries and looking for James O’Connor to do more contact training with a start in 2-3 weeks. Classically honest Dimes reveals he was happy with the attack on Saturday but felt that the defence was poor and made it easy for an attacking Wasps side. All the team had been frustrated and were disappointed with this result but have spent time addressing this in training. 

Is the game against Falcons – the Battle of the North? Dimes laughs and acknowledges they’re a good side who seem to have got their act together. Dimes praises them as an entertaining team and clearly fans of both sides will be interested to see Toby Flood play. They’ve also got two big wingers so Sale will need to be at their best. However Sale have the luxury (for them) of a stronger Bench than previous years and Dimes pays credit to the lads (especially Will!) who came off the Bench strongly. He also points out the work that has been done on team fitness – stats show the team ran more miles than any game they’ve played in for the last 2 years. 

Strong starts for Strauss and Faf who Dimes reports is quick to see opportunities and the rest of the team need to be able to respond with the same quickness. Any chance he’ll run out of steam and Dimes is dismissive of the suggestion. Much shorter season for Super Rugby and he’s absolutely keen to get going, as evidenced by a swift flight in France for pre-season and early start. 

Any news on the acquisition of the AJ Bell Stadium? Not yet – negotiations continue. Any purchase will need to be accompanied by investment into infrastructure, which will certainly be welcomed by the Sale faithful.

Dimes is looking forward to a nerve wracking 9 months!

Just time for a quick meet and greet with the most gorgeous new member of the squad – no not JOC – but Sam James new puppy!