HE came to Sale with a huge reputation for club and country but Sharks coach Bryan Redpath has already warned new arrival Richie Gray that past performances will count for nothing.
Scotland second row Gray was one of the standout performers for Andy Robinson’s men during their disastrous Six Nations campaign last season and was also impressive for Scotland on their summer tour to the southern hemisphere, which included a famous 9-6 win against Australia.
Former Gloucester coach Redpath is undertaking an exciting overhaul at Sale this summer, with Gray and former England international Danny Cipriani the highest-profile signings for the Cheshire club.
Gray will join an exciting pack of forwards that already includes prop Andrew Sheridan, Welsh No 8 Andy Powell and ex-England flanker Hendre Fourie. And, after seeing his latest big-name arrival paraded at Edgeley Park ahead of this weekend’s JP Morgan Asset Management Premiership Rugby 7s Series – Redpath has warned Gray to get in shape and fast or face a spell on the sidelines.
“The big thing for our new guys is that they have to get their fitness up to scratch,” said former Melrose and Scotland scrum-half Redpath. “Everyone coming in will be subject to a conditioning course.
“There will be no exceptions and I’m a great believer that, if you are fit, you can cope with most things that are thrown at you. Anyone coming in will have to fight to ensure their head is right and they are fit. When you are fit, the game is easier and you are mentally stronger.
“When you are not as fit, you tend to pick up injuries as you are not sharp and you get caught off balance.
“Having a player of the calibre of Richie is only going to help us develop but he still needs to prove himself. The key is to build on what Sale achieved last season.
“Buying into the Sale culture as quickly as possibly will help us speed the process.”
Gray was handed extended leave this summer by Redpath following his exertions with Scotland in the southern hemisphere – hence the former Glasgow Warrior was spared a Sale introduction at the JP Morgan Asset Management Premiership Rugby 7s Series on Friday night.
But, after getting his first taste of the atmosphere in the North West, Gray can’t wait to get going in a Sale shirt.
“I’ve met all the boys, they’ve been great and are a really friendly bunch of guys – they’ve made easier for me to settle in,” said Gray.
“They came up, introduced themselves and shook hands. We’ve had a good laugh and so I’m delighted to be down here.
“Pre-season training has been quite tough, really tough actually. It’s been a bit of a shock to the system so at the moment I’m looking forward to the weekends.
“I found some muscles I didn’t know I had before. There were a lot of down and ups and with my height it wasn’t exactly the greatest thing but I got through it, I was close to being sick though. I would love to have a great impact here and be part of a winning team because that’s what it’s all about.
“I am sure most of the fans will be at the new stadium and it will be great to see them there for the pre-season game against Leinster.
“This is my first appearance in front of the Sale fans. It’s been great to get down watching the sevens and the crowd is brilliant – I know I’m going to be very happy here and hopefully very successful as well.”
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Wednesday 19 June 2013
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