Troubled Wales Number 8 and lover of medieval facial hair Andy Powell was announced as Sale Shark’s new signing, after a raft of players and staff were cut from the club last week. Good move for Sale, assuming Powelly finds somewhere safe in the North to hole up away from football fans and golf courses, and then finds the rampaging form that first brought him to notice.
It does raise interesting implications for departing Glasgow Number 8 Richie Vernon, who beforehand must have been eyeing the starting jersey, but now will more than likely be battling with Powell for it. Both have merits as ball carrying back rowers with Vernon’s emphasis more on pace and skill than Powell who relies on power and aggression.
Either that or Sale decide to keep both men on the pitch and someone gets shunted to blindside flanker – both have appeared there in the past to make way for another more established Number 8s (Ryan Jones, Johnnie Beattie). This has often happened in the past to Scottish talents in an area traditionally crammed with riches, with the likes of Ally Hogg or Kelly Brown often shuffled about – suffering for their versatility in the same way Chris Paterson has done in the backs, in an effort to get the best men game time. Interestingly enough, on the Sale Sharks website Richie is listed as a “back row” while Powell is listed as a “Number 8”, which may give an early indication of how things will pan out… Richie Vernon’s comment (via Twitter) was “potential flat mate. We’d have a great time.” So he doesn’t seem to be troubled by it!
With Fraser Mackenzie also slotting in at 6 from time to time and players like David Seymour (usually an openside) already at the club, the new look Sale back row is starting to look crowded with potential. How that impacts on game time for one of Scotland’s brightest prospects will be interesting.