A second Sale signing in as many days was announced first thing Thursday morning with the Sharks offering official confirmation that Kiwi Lock Bryn Evans is joining the club on a two-year deal from Biarritz.
Evans, who appeared twice for the All Blacks in 2009 has also had stints with the Auckland Blues, the Hurricanes of Super Rugby and London Irish and if Steve Diamond's comments in the accompanying MEN article are anything to put stock in, the 6ft 5' Lock is viewed by the Sale coaching brass as a direct replacement for the Northampton-bound Michael Paterson.
Evans, weighing in at 18st 2lbs, is actually closer in stature to another departing Sale second row in Nathan Hines and should fill something of a hybrid role between what Hines and Paterson respectively brought to the Sharks' squad.
Whilst Evans is, in my opinion, another 'safe' addition to the Sharks first team, its hard not to be slightly underwhelmed, especially with both Hines and Paterson leaving the North-West at the same time.
Evans' main strength is his mobility around the park with a nice bit of pace as a ball-carrier in the wider channels and smart off-loading ability. Evans is also an efficient tackler that will fit well within Sale's defensive structure and an excellent lineout option that will combine well with Josh Beaumont. Evans can also cover blind-side Flanker which should give Sale much needed versatility with TJ Ioane and Beaumont being able to shift between the second and back rows as needed.
Its not hard to see why Diamond targeted Evans considering he should replicate the most important aspects of both Nathan Hines and Michael Paterson's respective skill sets they demonstrated at the AJ Bell. Evans at 30 years old is also another experienced head that should aid the development of Sale youngsters such as George Nott.
However Evans is also considered something of a lightweight option in the second row which is where Hines' scrummaging ability could be sorely missed. Sale's pack fluctuated in effectiveness throughout the season and it is hard to see whether Evans will make much of an impact in turning the Sharks' fortunes around in that area.
Additionally Evans, with two All-Black caps to his name and his last season being spent in the Pro D2 in France is hardly an 'all-star international' name Steve Diamond alluded to when Danny Cipriani re-signed with promises of significant investment. Whilst Diamond has shown in the past a shrewd effectiveness in the market for second and back row players in particular and Evans in my mind seems a smart investment, he's not a signing that suggests Sale are going to rebound and be up and amongst the play-off places again. There are still clear deficiencies in the Sale squad and whilst Evans fills one (and maybe two) holes in the Sale team, the Sharks' 2014-15 first team is still a long way from being completed.
Overall Bryn Evans reminds me a lot of Michael Paterson when the latter first joined Sale and with he proving to be such a monumental success as a Shark, I'm happy to trust Diamond that he's made another astute addition. However Evans is not Brodie Retallick and Sale are still a handful of players away before they can consider themselves shoe-ins for the top-six again in 2015/16.
What do you make of the Bryn Evans signing? A delightfully low-key addition or an underwhelming recruit that signals Sale's weakened hold within the market? Tweet and follow @SharkTankRugby for further opinions and analysis.