Sharks new signing Andrei Ostrikov is on the verge of making his long awaited debut. Following a frustrating start to his career at Sale, the Russian returned from a three month injury lay off this week playing 40 minutes for Sale reserve side, the Jets.
Not since the departure of Sebastien Chabal two years ago have the Sharks had a back rower capable of making the sort of impact head coach Steve Diamond is expecting of “The Bear”. Diamond, who coached the Russian National side before taking over at Sale, has in fact described Ostrikov as having the potential to become “the new Sebastien Chabal”. High praise indeed, considering the impact Chabal had on the Sharks in his time at the club, playing a significant role in their Championship winning side and winning himself a place in the hearts of all Sharks fans.
Ostrikov was set to play a significant role in Russia’s World Cup campaign but injured his back three days before their campaign was set to get under way. He has spoken of his frustration at not being able to kick start his Sale career as early as he would have wanted but he has said he is “really enjoying it here and am very excited to be at Sale Sharks”. He praised the clubs professionalism and is keen to back up the praise heaped upon him by his new coach.
The big Russian has been playing in France for the last 5 years and has made a huge impact. Sale had to fight off competition from top 14 giants Clermont Auvergne to sign Ostrikov, a huge coup for a Sale side that has struggled since winning the league in 2006. Diamond’s links with the Russian team no doubt played a role in luring Ostrikov to South Manchester.
Ostrikov is excited by the prospect of this next step in his career and hopes to “improve more as a player” in his time at Sale. If his performance for the Jets is anything to go from the Sharks could have uncovered a real gem. This could be an exciting partnership for both Sale and OStrikov.