Sale Sharks Rugby players in lockdown

Ben Curry Photo: Creative Capture Photography

Ben Curry Photo: Creative Capture Photography - Credit: John Marfleet/Sale Sharks

Sale Sharks players Tom Curry and Rohan Janse Van Rensburg, and commercial director Mark Cueto talk Rugby Union and life in isolation away from the AJ Bell Stadium, Salford

Tom Curry Photo: Creative Capture Photography

Tom Curry Photo: Creative Capture Photography - Credit: John Marfleet/Sale Sharks

Rugby Union stars from Sale Sharks tell how they’ve been spending time away from AJ Bell Stadium in Salford

Mark Cueto

The former England Rugby international and Sale Sharks winger lives in Hale. After hanging up his boots in 2015, Mark took up a position as Sale Sharks’ commercial director

Mark Cueto Photo: Creative Capture Photography

Mark Cueto Photo: Creative Capture Photography - Credit: John Marfleet/Sale Sharks

“It’s been a strange time for us in lots of ways and just like everyone else in the country, we’ve had to try and adapt to life and do everything we can in the interests of safety for our players, staff and fans.

“There’s been a sustained period of investment during the past few years from the club’s owners – Simon Orange and Ged Mason – and we now boast a squad including England stars and World Cup winners capable of challenging in domestic and European competition.

“When the lockdown started in March, we stood in second place in the Gallagher Premiership, and were preparing to play in the Premiership Rugby Cup final, only for that game and sport at all levels to be postponed due to the coronavirus pandemic.

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“Despite the lack of action on the pitch, we’ve been hard at work behind the scenes to keep the momentum of our successful season so far going.

Rohan Jense van Rensburg Photo: Creative Capture Photography

Rohan Jense van Rensburg Photo: Creative Capture Photography - Credit: John Marfleet/Sale Sharks

“One of those things is the launch of a new elite women’s team, which will play in the top women’s league – the Tyrrells Premier 15s – next season. Following the appointment of Darren Lamon as head of women’s Rugby, we’ve also brought in England’s World Cup-winning captain Katy Daley-McLean as a player-coach to spearhead the growth of women’s rugby in the area.

“As commercial director, I usually get the chance to meet with club partners and sponsors at the AJ Bell Stadium as they enjoy hospitality before, during and after top-flight games. “During lockdown, we’ve stayed connected digitally, and it’s been fantastic to see so many we work with in the business community going the extra mile to help our NHS and key workers.

“From donating ventilators and PPE to providing free transport, they’ve gone above and beyond in these uncertain times, and we’ve been keeping our fans up to date with regular features on our club updates and social media.

The lockdown period has also brought significant challenges for our playing squad, who have found themselves having to train at home rather than our high-performance centre in Carrington. They’ve also supported isolated members of the community by making personal phone calls as part of the league-wide #MakeThatCall campaign.

Like me, a number of them live in Cheshire, and they’ve been doing everything they can to stay fit and sharp ahead of a return to the season, which we hope will come soon.

Tom Curry

England international Tom has been spending lockdown with his parents and twin brother and fellow Shark Ben at their family home near Nantwich

“I start my day with a nutritious breakfast including lots of fruit, before doing some socially distanced fitness at a local rugby club just down the road. I can cycle down there and get a running session done before returning home for lunch at around 1pm.

“Following that, I relax before doing a home gym workout later in the afternoon. I’ve been able to stay in touch with the team through Zoom calls and quizzes – although I’m all quizzed out by now!”

“The competition to stay fit is always on between Ben and me, and that’s a massive help. It’s great to be able to push each other, as everyone has off-days when you’re not feeling up to it, and that’s when you need extra drive to get training done.

“Our cousin, Pat Jarrett, is a footballer at Stoke City FC, so doing socially distanced runs with him helps as he’s really quick. Strength and conditioning training have also helped us become as resistant to injury as possible, which means we won’t have niggles or strains preventing us from giving 100 per cent every time.

“Lockdown has also given us the chance to work out at spots where our dad used to take us training when we were around 12 and 13, so it’s been a good throwback to see the places we spent growing up.”

Rohan Janse van Rensburg

The South African inside centre for Sharks, has spent lockdown living with his wife at their home in Knutsford and has been putting the time to good use

“I have breakfast at around 8:30am, and at around 11pm to midday I do some socially distanced running at our club training centre in Carrington. The centre remained completely closed, but fields were available for us to run on.

“I can then commute back into Knutsford, which is very efficient, and get a high intensity interval training (HIIT) session done later in the day. I’ve also been using the time to really focus in on my diet, which has helped me hit my own health and fitness goals.

“It’s been a strange and challenging time for us all, but a great benefit to get myself as fit as possible and I can’t wait to get going again when it is safe to do so.”

About Sale Sharks

Sale Sharks are one of the leading professional Rugby Union clubs in Europe and the only top-flight Rugby Union club in the North of England. Historically based in the Manchester suburb of Sale, the club now play home fixtures at the AJ Bell Stadium, Salford. The Sharks compete in the Gallagher Premiership and Europe’s top competition, the Heineken Champions Cup, and were European Champions in 2002 and 2005. Players include England Internationals Tom Curry, Denny Solomona and Marland Yarde, along with South African international and 2019 World Cup Winners Faf de Klerk and Lood de Jager.

Find out more here about Sale Sharks