Sale Sharks captain Jono Ross is the hardest working player in the Gallagher Premiership and admits he is getting increasingly frustrated by the lack of interest from Eddie Jones, the England head coach.
While statistics don’t tell the whole story, they do provide ample proof that Ross is setting a standard very few other back row forwards in England can match and he currently tops the Premiership tackling chart with 288 and is the third highest ball carrier with 237.
The 28-year-old has played in 25 matches in all competitions this season for Sale Sharks, averaging 76 minutes a game, while making a phenomenal 370 tackles and carrying the ball 299 times. While England have not spoken to him this season, he remains determined to pull on the red rose jersey despite having to compete against Newcastle’s Mark Wilson, Brad Shields, of Wasps and Harlequins Chris Robshaw for the No6 role.
South African born Ross is England qualified through his grandmother, joined Sale from Stade Francais in 2017 and was included in England’s training squad last May leading into the Barbarians fixture. Despite continuing to impress for Sale, Ross remains on the fringes and said: “I haven’t had any contact with England this season and the last time was when I was with them was in the summer.
“It is a little bit frustrating because I think that at times my performances have deserved to get a bit more recognition, but, I can only control what I can, not if a coach picks me or not.
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“I have ambitions to play for England and to go to the World Cup. Hopefully, I can do enough to show Eddie Jones and the coaches that I am good enough to play at that level. For me, it is about helping Sale improve every week and if I am lucky enough to get some contact from England, that would be great.
“Stats aren’t everything but I do pride myself on my work rate and I try to be more effective at what I do. At this point of the season we all have to dig deep.”
Ross’s match statistics equate to nearly 15 tackles in every match and 12 carries and he will be leading from the front again on Saturday when Sale head to La Rochelle in their European Challenge Cup semi-final. Yet again, Ross will be asked to put his body on the line for the team against one of the most physical forces in the Top14 with their pack spearheaded by All Black Victor Vito.
“We know the magnitude of the test that awaits us in France,” added Ross. “We know we have to be better than we were against Worcester. We have been inconsistent this season, producing some really good results and then not turning up in games like Northampton and Bordeaux at home.
“We are a squad that is hurting a bit after the loss to Worcester and hopefully that will spur us on this weekend. La Rochelle play some good rugby and we are going to have to fight for everything and put in one of the best performances of the season. “
Sale scrum-half Faf de Klerk is a big fan of Ross and said: “He rarely misses a tackle, carries well and is all over the pitch. Hopefully, he will get higher honours very soon but he is very much a team man and he will do anything to help us perform.”
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