Sale captain Jono Ross: it’s far too early to talk about relegation

first_imgShare on Messenger Reuse this content Read more It may be too early in the season to describe Sunday’s meeting of Leicester and Sale at Welford Road as an eight-pointer but with the Manchester club starting the fifth round at the bottom of the Premiership and the Tigers having the worst defensive record after the opening four rounds, there will be little comfort for the loser in a season when, without an obvious struggler, every point counts.“We are not looking at the table,” insists the Sale captain, Jono Ross. “There are still 18 games to play. We have not had the start we wanted in the toughest of leagues because we have not been good enough. We have to improve and that starts with hard work. It is far too early to be talking about relegation and all we are focusing on is Leicester.” Sydney summit feels like a pivotal moment in rugby’s modern history Share on WhatsApp Leicester sacked their head coach, Matt O’Connor, three days into the season after losing 40-6 at Exeter while Sale’s director of rugby, Steve Diamond, reacted to their first home defeat by Wasps for eight years last weekend by recruiting the former Northampton forwards coach Dorian West and pledging some old-school training.“There was a fair bit of work done,” says Ross, who had given his side the ideal start against Wasps with a first-minute try. “Everyone was disappointed by the result and we have been taking a hard look at ourselves in the mirror. Dorian will add to our forward game and his experience should help us find an edge there.”There should be tries at Welford Road. Leicester have conceded 21 this season, while Sale have the next leakiest defence, having been breached 17 times. “At this stage of the season a lot can change quickly,” says Ross. “A couple of wins and you are in the top half of the table. We have to stay positive. It will be tough on Sunday but that is the case every time you play in the Premiership.” Premiership While the shape of the domestic season from 2019-20 is expected to be announced in the next couple of weeks after prolonged discussions between the Rugby Football Union, Premiership Rugby and the Professional Rugby Players’ Association, relegation will remain despite talk of ringfencing the elite. The only possible reprieve for the team finishing bottom will be if the Championship winners do not meet the entry criteria.With promoted Bristol winning two of their first four matches and Worcester, the pre-season relegation favourites, triumphant at Leicester having been pipped by a point by Wasps in the opening round, the comfort blanket of a team detached from the rest from early in the campaign has been snatched away. The bottom three clubs going into the latest round of matches were all former champions, Sale, Northampton and Newcastle. Two others, Leicester and Harlequins, were higher up the table, after one victory each in four, because of bonus points. The prospect of a big-name casualty – the last was Northampton in 2007 – is real.“There are no weak teams in the Premiership,” says Ross. “You look at Leicester’s squad and it is full of quality. It is the same with us but it is all about putting in a performance. We have played well in parts in all of our four games but we have not put it together for 80 minutes. We have been falling away and that has to stop.” Leicester Share on Twitter Share on Pinterest The Observer Share via Email Sale … we have a small favour to ask. More people, like you, are reading and supporting the Guardian’s independent, investigative journalism than ever before. And unlike many news organisations, we made the choice to keep our reporting open for all, regardless of where they live or what they can afford to pay.The Guardian will engage with the most critical issues of our time – from the escalating climate catastrophe to widespread inequality to the influence of big tech on our lives. At a time when factual information is a necessity, we believe that each of us, around the world, deserves access to accurate reporting with integrity at its heart.Our editorial independence means we set our own agenda and voice our own opinions. Guardian journalism is free from commercial and political bias and not influenced by billionaire owners or shareholders. This means we can give a voice to those less heard, explore where others turn away, and rigorously challenge those in power.We hope you will consider supporting us today. We need your support to keep delivering quality journalism that’s open and independent. Every reader contribution, however big or small, is so valuable. Support The Guardian from as little as $1 – and it only takes a minute. Thank you. Support The Guardian Share on Facebook Rugby union Read more Stuart Hooper to replace Todd Blackadder at Bath in 2020 news Topics Share on LinkedIn Since you’re here…last_img

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