Rugby Union

Dan Braid interview: Sale Sharks must start well

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Sale Sharks captain Dan Braid has told GiveMeSport that he and his side want to get the new campaign off to a good start, as they aim to build on the good 2013/14 Aviva Premiership season they enjoyed.

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Campaign opener

Sale host Bath in their campaign opener at the AJ Bell stadium on Saturday, and Braid hopes that his side can improve on the foundations laid after finishing an impressive sixth position last time out.

The position means the Sharks will be competing in the European Rugby Champions Cup this season, with a daunting group containing Munster, Clermont Auvernge and Saracens lying ahead of them this campaign. 

The challenging group means that Sale will want to be in the best possible form going into the competition, and Braid says that he cannot wait to get stuck into the 2014/15 season

Braid told GiveMeSport: "Preseason has been good. A lot of running, a lot of weights, in the heat it's hard but the pressure is off at the same time.

"But at this stage of the season you can't wait to start playing games, and as it gets closer you just want to get out there doing something you love.

"There has been a lot of things, working with the ball and that, that's obviously important, because then you make a good start to the season and it carries on."

No complacency

Braid rejected the assertion that there may be any overconfidence in the Sale ranks as they bid to improve on last season, saying: "We don't want to get ahead of ourselves, we want to consolidate, be up there in the top half of the league.

"If we do that, then we can make sure we make top six and then reassess the season, aiming for that top four, and make those playoff games.

"We won't get too low when the team isn't doing well and not get too high when the team is doing well. That's why it's so important you start well, and build that momentum and get to christmas in a good position.

"If we look back, it was in march and april we had a really good run, until northampton where we lost our way.

"We got towards the top four, picked a few injuries up and fell away towards the end. Every game is tough, and to maintain what we did last year, we need the help of the players we brought in."

The likes of James Gaskell and Dwayne Peel may have exited Sale this summer, but the feeling is that director of rugby Steve Diamond has recruited well, with the likes of Nathan Hines and Magnus Lund joining in the offseason. 

The new talent will be needed with the challenging group they find themselves in, but Braid hopes that the underdog tag will suit his colleagues.

"The guys are all looking forward to testing themselves against the top sides in Europe and looking at those teams, it's gonna be tough if we're being realistic," he added.

"But I think, in that group, we'll be a bit like we were in the Premiership as the sort of underdogs going into it. We're confident in what we can do, especially at home, so we'll definitely give them a good go and see what happens."

International ambitions

With the 2015 World Cup coming up in a year's time, many of Braid's teammates have been of interest to Stuart Lancaster and the England set up, and the New Zealand flanker says that he is happy for the likes of Danny Cipraini to be given national recognition off the back of success for their club side.

"The way I see it you do the hard work and they start promoting the top guys. so Danny making the England side, Michael Paterson making the England side, as well as the young guys like Tommy Taylor and Ross Harrison making their way. Their pride in getting called up is massive, and it shows how well the team does."

Obviously Sale players will be picked for their national side if they are doing well, and with the big kick off against Bath swiftly approaching, Braid says he cannot wait to start, especially with their good record against the West Country side, saying: "It's an awesome game Bath, we have a good run against Bath and we hope to carry it on.

"This game and the next, it all builds towards the end of the season where we want to compete for those top spots, and it's an exciting start."

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England Rugby
Sale Sharks
Rugby Union
IRB Rugby World Cup

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