Josh Beaumont has penned his latest column for TRU where he gives us an update about his return to training, the squad environment at Sale ahead of the Premiership resuming and of course, he discusses the signing of one player in particular…
I can’t really remember where I was up to last time! I think we spoke at the start of the lockdown period, but I’m back running now which is good. I am gradually integrating myself into preparing to return to full training, whether that is line-out wise, getting used to jumping etc so it is all about starting, from an athletic point of view, to move closer to all those little mechanisms to get you back fully functioning.
I will be there or thereabouts for the start of the season, I think. We have got a couple more weeks of hard training before some time off so I will come in a bit then and try and get some rest in so I will be close to that start of the season period.
I am not sure I will be up to the fitness levels required to throw me straight back in, but that is another important part of what I am doing at the moment, just building up again.
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I have not run since November and I haven’t done much Watt Bike or anything just because of a couple of setbacks so when you don’t do any anaerobic or aerobic exercise in six months, it does affect you and I have really noticed it this time!
I am lucky in terms of running. I can do a little bit but it is when it comes to a game scenario when you are scrummaging and mauling and sprinting and hitting rucks, it is a completely different sort of fitness. I suppose I will only know how ready I’ll be there and then because there won’t be any pre-season warm-up matches heading into this new block. It is coming off the back of quite a significant injury so I will be doing well if I return and hit the ground running! It is part of the process and I am just looking forward to getting back out there and playing some rugby.
It has been a tricky period, as it was for the whole of the industry. Players were put in, what was, a difficult decision [when it came to wages and contracts] and a lot of players don’t have a great deal of knowledge around their rights.
The RPA do a great job in kind of helping the players out, but it was a tough period for everyone. There were a few discussions early on for each player to come out and now we are all in the same boat on moving forward. Hopefully, rugby can put this all behind us in terms of the difficulties players have had with certain dealings with the club and we can move forward on what is important and that is the rugby.
I watched a couple of the training sessions at the back end of last week. Obviously, it has been a few months and it has been longer than a normal pre-season usually is and I was, not surprised, but pretty satisfied with the standard that was out there. Lads are buzzing in terms of getting back into the shape and understanding the systems.
The quality of training was like we had not really been away. Usually in a normal pre-season block, you’d be developing all the team aspects of play, but guys have picked it up again really quickly which is really good to see. I am sure every team is similar, but it is also about getting those new partnerships together.
There are obviously some guys we have lost. Losing guys like Webbs [Rob Webber] and Bryn [Evans] means there will be big gaps to fill and we have obviously got one or two new recruits in the backline so it is how we get them to gel as quickly as possible with no warm-up games and actually not much training time ahead of the season starting in three of four weeks’ time!
I’d heard a few rumours around the place! I wasn’t surprised on Monday when it was announced! He is definitely the biggest signing we have had since I have been here.
Although the likes of Faf [de Klerk] wasn’t unknown when he came to Sale because we all knew he was, everyone knows what Manu is capable of.
The impact he has had for England is clear for all to see and I wouldn’t say they rely on him, but he is a huge part of the way they play and they have invested a lot of time in him getting it right for the big games. Speaking to the South African guys, when they speak about Manu, you know he is a world class player. They have got huge respect for him. I have faced him a fair few times and I sometimes find myself in those outside channels! I’m glad he’s not lining up against me anymore!
Manu has only been here a day or so really. He knows a few of the guys. He knows Tom [Curry] well and we have also got guys like Johnny Leota and Sam Tuitupou who he knows so there are plenty of guys within the club that have made him feel welcome and now I am looking forward to seeing what he is like on the training pitch!
I am pretty sure if we were languishing towards the bottom of the table, that might have affected Manu’s decision. I know Dimes [Steve Diamond] said that we don’t just want to be a one-off winner in the Premiership in the future like what happened in 2006.
The vision is to be up there and to be in those top four places for the next few years moving forward. We have been building a squad and a big part of that is having the depth and the depth in quality to be able to challenge and create an exciting brand of rugby up here in the North-West. Signings like Manu are crucial to that. You have seen what has been occurring on social media and in the media after it was announced because the spotlight has been put on the club so it is an exciting time to be involved with Sale.
We have not really talked much about the next block. Obviously, we know what is coming in terms of the schedule and for players, we know this is going to be tough because there are short turnarounds. We are hugely excited by the potential we know we are capable of and it is about time we brought some silverware back to the region. Newcastle have obviously been promoted again now, but we want to be that flagship sporting organisation up here in the north and hopefully everything goes through with the new stadium as well so it is very exciting times.
Josh Beaumont was speaking to TRU's Chris Heal