Polished Diamond happy to shoulder the burden at Sale
It cannot be long now before Steve Diamond fishes his boots out of the bottom drawer and resumes his place in the middle of the Sale front row. Why not? He's doing everything else.
The former hooker will take over as the fast-improving northern club's chief executive at the end of the month while continuing his role as executive director of sport, thereby becoming the Premiership's busiest man as well as the one with the longest job title in world rugby. If the former champions finish in a Heineken Cup qualifying place, he will deserve a medal the size of a soup bowl.
Diamond succeeds Mick Hogan as CEO following the latter's decision to move to England Rugby 2015, the organisation set up to deliver the home World Cup in a little over three and a half years' time. In the professional era, only Mark Evans of Harlequins has shouldered such a burden.
Ian Blackhurst, the club's co-owner, said he had been discussing the move with Diamond and the principal investor Brian Kennedy for some time. "Mark Evans set the foundations for where Harlequins are today," Blackhurst commented, referring to the Londoners' success in last season's Amlin Challenge Cup and their blistering start to the current campaign. His hope is that Diamond, who rejoined the club a year ago after a coaching spell at Saracens and a productive tour of duty with the Russian national team, can achieve something similar.
Things are certainly happening at Sale. There is continuing investment at the training ground in Carrington, next door to Manchester United's slightly grander facility, and the entire administrative operation will soon be based there. There are also discussions with Salford rugby league club about a possible groundshare at the new Barton Bridge stadium. "We are in negotiations, but it has to be commercially right," Blackhurst said.
According to Diamond, who has strengthened his side with some intelligent signings and has secured the services of the brilliant young Scottish forward Richie Gray for next season, two more eye-catching recruits will be confirmed shortly. "We've worked hard on this over Christmas," he said, adding that details could not be divulged immediately for contractual reasons.
Whoever those new signings turn out to be, Sale will be praying for better productivity than Worcester are likely to get from their newly-recruited Samoan No 8 Ezra Taylor, who suffered a serious knee injury just two minutes into his debut against Wasps at the weekend and will not play again this season. "The jinx continues," said the Midlanders' head coach, Richard Hill, who has three more loose forwards unavailable in Neil Best, Kai Horstmann and Adam Balding. "I don't want to go back into the market, though. As you can see, it's not working for us." None of the injured players will be fit for the home derby with Gloucester on Saturday.
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