England centre Manu Tuilagi has said that he was convinced to join Sale Sharks after a single zoom call, identifying the way Steve Diamond looks after players as the main reason for the switch.
After a disagreement with his club of 10 years Leicester Tigers over contract terms, Manu Tuilagi signed as a free agent to Sale Sharks, with the biggest selling point being the club’s emphasis on player welfare.
The deal came about as a result of Tuilagi not being able to reach a deal with the Tigers after they proposed a 25 per cent wage cut across the whole senior team. Tuilagi could not agree to the terms of the new contract and was then later made a free agent in which Sale Sharks snatched him up very soon after.
The deal is reportedly worth around £300,000 for one year which he will be taking part in 1 ½ Premiership seasons.
According to Manu Tuilagi, one of the main reasons for the move was due to the care and attention head coach Steve Diamond takes with his players, as player welfare is such an important aspect for players to take into consideration, especially a player such as Tuilagi who has a history of injuries and setbacks in his career.
Diamond has highlighted his desire to help Tuilagi get game time to be chosen for England. "The first thing is the care and detail – [learning to] understand his body over the next fortnight, knowing exactly what he needs, and then see when we utilise that,” Diamond said.
“Initially he’s here for 12 months – that’s two campaigns, as I see it – and as we get to know each other we’ll have a chat about the future. Initially, it’s how we get this lad playing for us on a regular basis and playing for England on a regular basis. Then the big light at the tunnel is a Lions tour in 12 months’ time.”
The Sharks have one of the smallest first-team groups in the Premiership, the way Diamond has managed their fitness and welfare is by using a non-contact mentality during training, which the prevention of any serious injuries and setbacks for any player in the squad. Another possible solution that has been considered is running two squads during their hectic Premiership schedule, playing one squad midweek.
Player welfare has been a major talking point for Rugby during the coronavirus pandemic, as it is a high contact sport, with some players under concern due to them not being able to have a break or time off for 12 months when the league restarts.
Premiership Rugby is in negotiations with top-flight players over how best to manage their welfare when the competition returns, with concerns over how to avoid overplaying when rugby returns next month.
The Premiership season will begin again August 14-16, however, players who will be joining the Lions tour will not be able to take time off to rest, which will result in not being able to have a full break until next year on August 8.
Author: Bradleigh Amis