ENGLAND sensation Tom Curry has the ability to walk into any current World XV, according to Sale Sharks captain Jono Ross, and could eventually eclipse All Blacks legend Richie McCaw as the best openside the game has ever seen.
Curry, 20, has taken his first Six Nations by storm, and Ross believes he will be a permanent fixture in the side for years to come – if he is treated right.
“Tom is 20 years old and shining on the international stage,” said Ross. “He is an extremely hard worker and gives absolutely 100 per cent in every training session.
“At the moment he is one of the best openside flankers in the world. He is a fighter who never goes away and he wants to learn and get better.
“The key is to stay injury free and to be managed well. He plays in a very attritional position and you don’t want to see players like Tom finished at 25. He can go on to become the best-ever seven to play the game, if he continues on the path that he is and stays injury free.”
While Tom has seven senior England caps, his twin brother and fellow flanker Ben has had to be content with U20 honours.
Ross, however, does envisage a time when the twins will line up in the same England back row.
“Tom is a bit ahead of him at the moment but give them a couple of years and I don’t see any reason why they can’t be both playing for England,” Ross said.
“It is difficult for Ben and Tom because everyone sees them and thinks they are the same players. But they are slightly different.
“Tom is probably a bit more physical. He seems to have developed a bit more in terms of his body and is a little bit bigger and puts it around a bit more. But I think Ben is a better ball player than Tom.
“Ben is a really good player in his own right. He is good over the ball, he is skilful and gives everything he has got. He has played a lot more for Sale than Tom and has been a standout performer week in, week out.”
Meanwhile, No.8 Ross has welcomed news that two fellow South Africans, fly-half Rob du Preez and destructive hooker Akker van der Merwe, will be arriving next season on deals that run until 2022.
It will be du Preez’s second spell at Sale having impressed earlier in the season on loan.
“We all saw what Rob could bring, he gives us fantastic direction,” said Ross. “Akker is an extremely dynamic player and I think he’ll go really well for us.”
Ross is in line to top the Premiership tackle count for the second consecutive season. The 28-year-old has started every league game so far.
“I think my body is starting to feel it a bit,” he admitted. “I just try and get involved as much as I can and, somehow, I seem to make a lot of tackles!”
Jono Ross was speaking at a Gallagher ‘Train with your Heroes’ session at Lymm Rugby Club after their U15s side won a nationwide competition launched by Gallagher, title partner of Premiership Rugby.
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