Belfast Telegraph

Home Sport Rugby

Sale chief plays down Denny Solomona hype

Sale director of rugby Steve Diamond has cooled talk of Auckland-born wing sensation Denny Solomona playing for England.

The 23-year-old Samoa international, who scored a record 40 tries in Super League in 2016, has slotted effortlessly into a switch of codes with eight tries in just five Aviva Premiership matches to go joint third in the list.

Solomona becomes qualified for England through the residency rule on March 9, three years since he played his first match in England for London Broncos in a Super League clash with Warrington, but Diamond is urging patience.

"Everyone is jumping on the bandwagon," he said. "Let us look after Denny the way we are.

"He's not English-qualified at this moment in time, there's no guarantee he will be. We aren't in a rush to get it sorted - it's down to him whether he wants to."

Solomona, who is the subject of a £500,000 compensation claim from his old club Castleford after quitting the club with two years left on his contract, scored a first-half hat-trick of tries to topple leaders Wasps last week and will be hoping to help his side claim another notable scalp when they visit champions Saracens on Saturday.

The match, which will mark the start of Diamond's three-week touchline ban for verbally abusing match officials, will give the Sharks a chance to stretch their unbeaten run to six matches and atone for a 50-3 humbling on their last visit to Allianz Park in the European Champions Cup in December.

"It's not been a happy hunting ground for us but we've cut out a lot of our errors since we last played them so we just need to continue that," said Sale captain Josh Beaumont, who returned from injury to lead his side to their bonus-point win over Wasps.

"I feel like we owe them a victory."

Saracens are unbeaten in their last 17 home games in all competitions since Northampton won at Allianz Park last March but they are without a win in their last three Premiership fixtures and are aiming to avoid going four in a row for the first time since 2006.

Exeter, who are level on points with second-placed Saracens, will aim to stay in touch with the leaders when they host improving Newcastle, who have won three of their last four matches in all competitions.

The Chiefs have been dealt an injury blow with the loss of leading points-scorer Gareth Steenson with a hamstring injury, which paves the way for youngster Joe Simmonds to make his first Premiership start.

Northampton, who on Friday announced new deals for 11 members of their current squad, will be aiming to keep alive their play-off hopes when they host lowly Worcester.

Experienced trio Christian Day, Luther Burrell and Ken Pisi have all extended their stay at Franklin's Gardens, along with Charlie Clare, Reece Marshall, Jordan Onojaife, Rory Hutchinson, Tom Stephenson, Juan Pablo Estelles, Ben Nutley and Tom Kessell.

In Sunday's fixtures relegation favourites Bristol face a derby with Bath and Wasps will be aiming to bounce back from their surprise defeat at Sale when they host Gloucester, who have lost one of their last seven matches.


From Belfast Telegraph