Caretaker Sale boss Paul Deacon has described taking over for his first game last weekend as “a little bit scary”, adding that the deposed Steve Diamond was in touch via text following the Premiership club’s 26-14 opening round Champions Cup loss at Toulon.
Heads were massively turned in English rugby circles last week when Diamond, the Manchester club’s long-serving director of rugby, suddenly quit following an alleged difference of opinion in the direction that the ambitious Sharks should take going forward.
That shock departure resulted in Deacon, who had been with Sale as Diamond’s assistant since 2015, being thrust into the primetime role as the club’s temporary figurehead for an awkward assignment in France.
Diamond’s sudden departure would have been a convenient excuse if Sale had gone on and shipped a hammering by 40 or 50 points. However, they resiliently stuck to their task and Deacon believes there were many positives to take from Toulon heading into Saturday’s round two game at home to Edinburgh.
“I’ll be honest, it was a little bit scary,” said Deacon, the 41-year-old who forged his career as a star player in Super League before switching codes to become attack/skills coach at Sale five years ago.
Three-time winners @RCTofficiel were back with a bang as they cruised to a home win over @SaleSharksRugby ? @sergioparisse was at his glorious best as the French got their campaign off to the perfect start ?#HeinekenChampionsCup highlights ?? pic.twitter.com/Mr2yfkgnAX
— Heineken Champions Cup (@ChampionsCup) December 13, 2020
“I was nervous before the game. There were more decisions to be made during the game regarding substitutions and everybody is looking at you but I felt ready for it. During games, you have your own opinions. I enjoyed it, enjoyed it, and I just hope that the lads are enjoying the way I am dealing with things and we can all be in it together.
“Steve dropped me a text after the game saying the lads never give in and keep it positive so that is what I am trying to do, that is what we are all striving for. Stay positive and get better.
“Obviously I have to think about a lot more things now which I didn’t have to think about before which takes time but also I have enjoyed that, getting my teeth into them things, but yeah the biggest change for me personally is it [the job] is always on your mind, you have always got them decisions, players to talk to, them type of things.
“I want things to be done correctly and in the right way. I pride myself on that. That is the thing I have to get used to, but the one thing I have to make sure is I do have some downtime as well and not burn myself out.
“I was proud of the performance. I said that to the lads after the game, Toulon away is a very tough place to go. I don’t think they have lost there yet this season in the French competition. We knew we were up against it going there, but we were confident. We knew we could put in a performance. Performance-wise we weren’t too far off which is pleasing and is definitely something to build on.”
England back row Tom Curry won’t figure in Deacon’s selection plans as he is still on a compulsory break following the Autumn Nations Cup campaign while skipper Jono Ross will also be absent as he is following return to play protocols after his concussion in Toulon.
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— RugbyPass (@RugbyPass) December 16, 2020
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