Briggs relishes leadership role
October 25, 2010
Neil Briggs gets to grips with Gloucester's Rory Lawson © Getty Images
Sale's new captain Neil Briggs is hoping to invoke the spirit of skippers past as he embarks on his own stewardship of the Sharks - one he hopes will end in the club competing in the Premiership playoffs in May.
The Sale flanker was appointed as Sharks captain for the remainder of the season in October following a serious injury to previous skipper James Gaskell. Gaskell suffered a ligament injury during training. and will be out of action for a four months.
Sale head coach Mike Brewer, who took over from Jason Robinson in the summer, handed the captain's armband to Briggs and the 25-year-old is determined to use his experience of inspirational former captains Juan Fernandez Lobbe and Jason White.
After winning his first game in charge, a 6-3 victory over Leeds at the weekend, it is a policy that seems to be working.
"Having been around the club for five years or so and done my time and now it was my turn to do the team talks and lead the team out," he told ESPNscrum. "I think the boys reacted well and it was really good from my point of view. And it was good to come away with the win so at the moment I am 100%.
"I have been around some great captains like Juan Fernandez Lobbe, who used to lead by example. He is a great guy to at if you want to learn off the captain. Jason White was also very impressive. So I try to look back on what they have done before and take some experience from that and bring a litte it of me to the team again.
"I am not the loudest guy so I am not going to go around shouting but if something needs to be said then I wont be afraid of saying it. So I haven't changed too much from what I would normally be on match day."
Sale have endured a mixed start to the season and they currently lie eighth in the table. But it is already an improvement on last year when Sale surprisingly to many fought relegation for much of the season. And Briggs believes the discipline and detail Brewer has brought to the club, along with the spirit within the squad, can make them continue their transformation and ultimately challenge for the playoffs.
"Whenever you bring a new coach in you always get things shaken up and fresh feel to the club and you could say that is what happened this year," he added. "The boys are all on track, they all know what they are doing and what is expected of them and at the minute things are going well. We have a very tight knit bunch of boys and what Mike has brought in has been taken on board really positively.
"The way we train is really tough but the boys have all brought into it and we understand the reasoning behind it. It is intense. We train as we are going to play. Mike has brought in a huge element of detail.
"At the minute we are looking to get in to the top six and as soon as we get into the top six we will reevaluate and will look to top four and then on again."
We spoke to Neil Briggs over a pint of Greene King IPA, the Official Beer of Sale Sharks and England Rugby. Get behind the scenes rugby access and win tickets to see Sale in action at www.greenekingipa.co.uk
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