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The 'really brutal' conversations that turned Sale's season around

By PA
Sale Sharks/ PA

Sale flanker Ben Curry has revealed some “really brutal” conversations between players led to the club’s remarkable run to the Gallagher Premiership play-offs.

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The Sharks face a trip to Bath in their semi-final after pulling off a stunning victory at Saracens to ensure they finished the regular season on an impressive run of five straight wins.

Sale looked out of the reckoning when they lost six games on the bounce, but that prompted some harsh truths between the playing squad.

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Curry admits some meetings caused an “awkward” atmosphere in camp but they have since come out the other side.

He told the PA news agency: “It was post-Bath (a 42-24 loss in March). We took it to another level when we had player meetings and they were really brutal. Lads were calling each other out and I think it’s always a bit awkward at first, but that’s not what we expect.

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“The atmosphere is awkward at first, we weren’t all best mates initially. But it’s coming from a good place, we’ve set our standards at the start of the year.

“But then slowly, off the back of six losses you’re like ‘our standards have slipped and it’s hard to pinpoint where it happened’. It was awkward in the changing rooms for a bit – but results have helped.”

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Sale were in a rut going into the Six Nations break having lost five on the spin before the 42-24 defeat to Bath that prompted the crunch talks.

A crushing 41-5 victory against Exeter the following weekend seemed to flick a switch in the Sale camp and results snowballed as they snatched an unlikely play-off berth.

Curry added: “That Six Nations break came at a good time for us.

“You get to the third loss and it’s in the back of your mind and when you go through four, five and six it’s really bad. It shows how strong the mind is though in terms of sport in that it can turn into a snowball either way.

“There was a proper feeling of lads taking accountability for the rugby and we’ve definitely taken ourselves to another level in terms of our standards. I’m very proud of the lads for that.”

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Curry played his part with two tries in his last four games and the England international is proud of his performances this season, despite not having the smoothest year.

He said: “I’ve really enjoyed my rugby a lot this year. I came into the season with a hamstring tear, came back from that and I was very proud to be part of the Six Nations squad.

“It didn’t quite work out, I got injured and pulled out of that then we lost six games in a row – it’s been an unbelievable season with quite a lot of negatives looking back.

“To be in this position, it’s been a season that has tested my resilience but I’m very proud of myself. It hasn’t been perfect and they are probably the ones where you learn a lot more about yourself.”

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Turlough 1 hours ago
'Let them keep talking' - Mike Catt claps back over Bok remarks

“You want that – not hatred – but whatever it is that stirs it all up. It’s good.” Agree with this. If you can put a common motivating idea in all your players heads during a game it can produce a real Team perfromance. Erasmus is pretty expert at this. It is quite clear that the comments by Etzebeth, Allende and others were not coincidence and were actioned to create animoisty before the series in order to galvanise the South African mind set. While I understand it, I don’t like it. They result in unnessary vitriol between supporters and for what? I don’t think any of the SA players seriously believe any of these claims and with Ireland ignoring them Erasmus won’t get the escalation he seeks. The vitriol shown by some SA and indeed NZ supporters is extremely weird for NH supporters (OK, maybe England have felt it) but it just feels very odd over a sport. Ireland were more or less sh1t for the first 100 years of their rugby, they have improved significantly in the last 25 to be in a position around now (it may not last) to go into a match with the big guns with a real shot of winning. The reaction to this from some SH supporters has been bizarre with conspiracy theories of ‘Arrogance’ fueling abuse from supporters and even NZ players to Irish crowds during the world cup. I love International rugby and the comraderie between supporters. I genuinely dread and dislike the atmosphere around games with the southern giants. They take this very personally. NH teams: play them, try and beat them, enjoy the craic with their players and supporters and wish them well. SH teams wish them well and they call you arrogant in the press months later. Its just a matter of try and beat them and then good riddance til the next time.

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