Sale Sharks’ pack has bulked up and ready to front up

Henry Thomas Sale’s pack is ready to front up and make its mark in the Premiership next season, according to Henry ‘Meathead’ Thomas.
The Sharks’ set-piece endured an indifferent campaign in 2011/12 as a new-look squad took time to gel together.
But tight-head prop Thomas, whose nickname comes from his schooldays at Millfield, believes that a year on they will be “older and wiser” and much stronger.
Key additions to the squad like prop Eifion ‘The Fridge’ Roberts and Scotland lock Richie Gray who, with a combined weight of 41 stones,  will also lend considerable ballast to the forward effort.
Thomas told The Rugby Paper: “The likes of Northampton and Leicester – and Quins towards the end of the season – really tried to use the scrum as a weapon, which is what we want to do.
“Last year there were about 20 new faces when I came back from playing for England U20s and it felt like a new club. But the squad is a year older and wiser now and hopefully that will be translated into a better set-piece. Last year we were a bit hit-and-miss.
“Hopefully the hard work of the summer will pay off and the addition of people like Richie and The Fridge can only help, too.
“I’ve been watching Eifion play for Toulon over the last 12 months and he’s been playing fantastically well. I hope he brings that form to Sale next season.
“He is a good scrummager and is looking in great shape and is the sort of character you want to have around the squad. It’ll be good to have him back at the club.”
With Thomas and a rejuvenated Tony Buckley vying for the No.3 jersey, and fellow youngsters such as Lee Imiolek and Ross Harrison looking to push on, the prop supply line looks in good nick at Sale.
“Lee, who is a year older than me, had an on-off year but he is working hard in the gym and is definitely going to come back stronger,”  Thomas said.
“He is one to look out for, as is Ross Harrison who has been in South Africa with the U20s. He is a big, strong boy, one of the strongest in the squad, and he has a bright future ahead of him.”
As for 21-year-old Thomas he is ready to put an injury troubled season behind him and push hard to get back into the England reckoning. The tight-head prop suffered a bad knee injury on New Year’s Day in the match against Leicester at Welford Road, which left him on the sidelines for the best part of four months and effectively ruined his chances of being selected by Stuart Lancaster for the tour to South Africa.
He briefly returned to see out the season at Sale but further complications resulted in him undergoing keyhole surgery a fortnight ago.
“After the last game of the season my knee didn’t feel right and three days later it had swelled up. I had a scan and it showed a tear in cartilage.
“If I’d have been fit there’s a chance I could have gone on tour with England, so it was disappointing to miss out.
“But everything is fine now and all on track.
“Only being keyhole surgery I was weight-bearing straight away so it’s all moved on pretty quickly.
“At the moment I am spending a lot of time in the gym and I’ve just started to do some bike work. I will be back in full training in a couple of weeks and then looking to push on into next season.
“What gets you in the (England) frame is playing well for your club side, so that’s my next aim really.”

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