Ben Curry warns Sale stars want to silence the critics this season
Ben Curry warns Sale stars are on a mission to silence their critics this season after they were wrongly blamed for the Covid-19 outbreak which shattered the club’s title bid
- Ben Curry has recovered from Covid-19 just in time for the start of the season
- The Sale flanker warned he and his team-mates are out to prove critics wrong
- They were wrongly accused of partying amid a Covid outbreak in the team
Ben Curry has recovered from Covid just in time for the start of the new Premiership season on Saturday — and the Sale flanker is not short of motivation for the campaign ahead.
There are powerful collective and personal agendas driving the 22-year-old openside flanker. His club have a point to prove after the ugly fall-out from the virus outbreak which shattered their title bid last month and his individual objective is to join brother Tom in the England team. Ben believes that there is room for the twins to operate in tandem at Test level, just as they do for the Sharks.
He will line up against Northampton at an empty AJ Bell Stadium for Sale’s opening 2020-21 fixture having had a disrupted mini pre-season, due to enforced isolation. ‘I had Covid about two weeks ago,’ he said.
Ben Curry has warned Sale’s players are out to prove critics wrong this Premiership season
‘I sat down one night to watch a film and started shivering. The next night, I literally sweated through my sheets. I obviously knew something wasn’t right. We got tested just before we were about to come back in for training and my result was negative but I said, “I don’t think that’s quite right” so I self-isolated anyway. It wasn’t until the week later that I tested positive.’
It was just as well Curry erred on the side of caution. The pandemic had already denied Sale a shot at reaching the play-offs at the end of last season and they became the subject of unfounded allegations about partying at a Manchester university following their Premiership Cup final victory over Harlequins.
A forensic RFU investigation has absolved Sale of any wrongdoing, which only heightens their outrage about claims that they had brought 27 Covid cases on themselves. ‘A lot of people commented at the time about the culture and character of our group here, so we have a lot to prove to other people,’ said Curry.
In reference to the university party allegation, he added: ‘That was the worst part. Even my dad was asking if we were out and I just said, “You know we weren’t”. People saying those things have to understand how much weight their words carry.
‘Of course the lads didn’t go out — especially to a uni. Even if we’d wanted to go out that night there was nowhere to go. We got back to the training ground at 11 and nowhere was open.
Curry and his team-mates were wrongly accused of partying before the club’s Covid outbreak
‘You can see why people were putting two and two together. We’d won the cup then the next week we had those positive tests. So we got a lot of stick but we’ve moved on. We are very motivated to go out this season and achieve something.’
Curry spent lockdown earlier this year training with Tom and they have remarkably similar physical attributes and playing ability. Yet Tom has blazed a trail with England, starred at the last World Cup and earned a nomination for the World Player of the Year award while Ben has had to settle for developing his game at club level.
It is a difficult dynamic but not one he struggles with now. ‘When it first happened I was gutted — well, not gutted exactly, but it was a very mixed time,’ said Curry. ‘I was only 18 and I didn’t know how to handle it.
‘Now, I believe there is space for me in the England team too. There is space for other backrowers in that team if you play well enough, as Jack Willis has proven.
‘It has shown other back-rowers like me what can happen if you focus on yourself and play well. I know what I need to do to get back in that form. It’s about concentrating on what you can bring to that England team, then really driving that home to Eddie Jones.
Curry (L) believes there is room in the England team for him to feature alongside twin Tom (R)
‘It’s great that Tom is doing that and I’m really happy for him but I can’t sit around saying, “Well done, well done” or I won’t achieve it for myself. You have to almost become a bit selfish and think, “This is what I want and no-one is going to hand it to me so I’ve got to go and batter that door down”.’
Jones rates Tom as a world-class talent while Sale value the uncapped twin as at least the equal of his brother.
Their innate desire to drive each other on has long benefited Sale. It could benefit England too.
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