Tom Curry: 'It is tough because if there is someone who deserves to play in the final, it's Ben'

Ben Curry will miss Sale Sharks' first Premiership final in 17 years after sustaining a hamstring injury
©Steve Haag

Tom Curry is hoping that Sale Sharks can turn the bitter disappointment of losing his twin brother Ben to injury into a positive when the club face Saracens in next Saturday's Gallagher Premiership final.

Last Sunday, Ben was stretchered off with a hamstring injury in Sale's 21-13 semi-final victory over Leicester Tigers and the Sharks confirmed the flanker will require surgery which could see him sidelined for four to six months.

With the World Cup beginning on September 8th, the England international looks set to miss the showpiece event in France but on the domestic front, brother Tom - and Sale - are trying to use the setback as a source of inspiration.

"It is tough," Tom said. "He is a bit less sore now. The type of person he is, he hasn't really left the training ground. He has been in the hyperbaric chamber for about five hours!

"It has to [give Sale a bit of impetus]. It is tough because if there is someone who deserves to play in the final, I think it is him. It has got to give us an edge. It has to."

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Ben sustained his injury after winning a turnover at a breakdown but with a Leicester player attempting to roll the Sale captain away, more Tigers forwards surged in to clear the Sharks flanker out.

The injury, and anguish on Curry's face, brought back memories of when Jack Willis picked up a long-term knee injury in similar circumstances when playing for England against Italy in 2021.

That particular injury led to calls for 'crocodile rolls' to be punished further by officials. When asked whether the fear of being injured crosses a jackalers mind when competing for the ball, Tom said: "I think you’d like to think there’s a point [where you don’t think like that]. If there was something to prevent it, that would be nice. I think we’ve got to the point now. It doesn’t have to be a big thing, it’s just a conversation but every time we see an injury from the breakdown it’s from that and I think you’ve got to start listening to what’s happening.

"I think there’s too much negativity around this. We’re out there to play the game. If there’s something that’s going to make it safe for people going for the ball, brilliant but for me, the game is brilliant the way it is."

In recent years, the Curry twins - as well as the likes of the James brothers and Josh Beaumont - have arguably encapsulated what Sale have been striving to achieve.

To go into next weekend's final against Saracens without one of their standout, homegrown talents is obviously a blow for Alex Sanderson's side but for rugby as a whole in the North-West, Curry can't help but relish the occasion, especially after experiencing a sold-out AJ Bell Stadium in the semi-final.

"It [the semi-final] was amazing. It was pretty cool, wasn't it?" Curry added. "We are probably not used to having it like that so it was a nice change but also to see what it meant to so many people, I think is really special. It is not often you can celebrate like that at such a magnitude I guess.

"It is [reaching the final] the biggest thing, isn't it? You can't get any bigger than this and you'd be saying that at every club. I remember when Sale lifted the trophy [in 2006] and the team that did that. Moments like Sunday, you see the fans, the old ones, the young ones, people who have supported us way longer than I have been alive and to see how much it means to them, I think that is the special part."

Sale's triumph over Leicester saw them reach their first Premiership final since winning the title back in 2006, but it was their second semi-final in three years.

Last week, Sanderson said that there was "less emotion" around their clash with the Tigers compared to when they faced the Exeter Chiefs back in 2021, and in front of a full house at the AJ Bell Stadium, the Sharks boss was proved right as Sale didn't let the sense of occasion get the better of them.

"I was buzzing! smiled Curry. "There were plenty of distractions! That is probably a sign of where the team is, though. There was quite a lot of external noise whether it was kind of walking into the stadium or different bits and bobs but I think we were able to shut that out.

"We had a clear plan and there was just a feeling within the squad that we were able to trust each other and back each other. Even when we were six points down first half, I think we managed to give away like five penalties in the first 10 minutes, it still felt like we were going to come through, not only because we were killing ourselves but just the feeling that we knew we were going to stick at it and come together.

"That doesn't mean that it was perfect. We probably didn't even give the best account of ourselves. We have got more to give but we had the feeling that we were going to keep working together and I think that is really important, especially with what goes on externally."

Sale will no doubt turn to Curry as well as their other experienced leaders when they take to the Twickenham field next weekend.

The 24-year-old has already experienced two Premiership semi-finals - as well as a World Cup final - but believes trying to hype things up or downplay certain aspects might be more of a hindrance than an aid to his team.

"Knockout rugby is different, isn't it?" Curry added. "The most important thing I have learnt so far is just trying to be yourself. It doesn't mean you start being relaxed. It doesn't mean you start being more intense. You just have to be yourself.

"I am probably talking more in terms of the training week because once you get to the game, you're playing. I think the training week is what can be affected and the mood around what you give off to the lads. Especially as a leadership group, I think that is really important. You don't have to start giving big speeches. You don't have to start tearing around or doing this or doing that. You just have to get yourself right."

Focusing on themselves has been a staple of Sale's progression this season and the same mantra will apply when they face the five-time Premiership winners next Saturday.

After topping the table and reaching the final last season, Mark McCall's men will be seen as favourites but highlighting the opposition's strengths and weaknesses is something Curry - and Sale - don't want to concentrate on too much.

"This is kind of the first day [Thursday] that we have spoken about Saracens. It is not looking at their chinks but looking at where we can be best. We are physical. We have got an ability to be exciting but also an ability to stay within our kicking game. I think that poses a lot of threats. I think we are finding a lot more consistency in the way we want to play.

"I think for us, it is not about looking at their chinks. It is about how we can bring the best out of ourselves and Saracens have to cope with that."

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