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Gaskell hailed by Brewer

Sale Sharks boss Mike Brewer has backed James Gaskell to be "a real success" after appointing him as the club's youngest captain in its history.

Gaskell, 20, will lead Sale into domestic action against Newcastle on Friday night when the new Aviva Premiership season kicks off at Edgeley Park.

And while the giant forward's elevation might have raised eyebrows in many quarters, head coach Brewer has no doubt about his credentials for the job, saying: "I know it will be a surprise to a lot of people due to James' young age. As far as what I am looking for in a captain, it's someone to take the club forward in this journey we are about to embark on."

He added: "He will be a key player in the squad over the next three to five years, and the biggest trait I am looking for is someone prepared to put his body on the line and someone who won't be asking players to do something he can't do himself.

"He might be 20 years of age, but he is a lot older in terms of his experience and his knowledge of the game.

"I think he will be a real success for the team, and I know the players are right behind him to help him perform his role and lead the team to success this season."

One of Gaskell's first roles might be to introduce some of his playing colleagues to each other, given the new-look appearance of Brewer's team.

Nine of the 23-man group selected on Friday have yet to make their competitive debuts for Sale, including full-back Paul Williams, centre Kyle Tonetti, prop Karena Wihongi and lock Nic Rouse.

And while Brewer is without injured England trio Mark Cueto, Mathew Tait and Charlie Hodgson, he will be optimistic of gaining a win against a side that finished two places and five points above Sale last term.

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