N.B. I have been out of the country for the last couple of days hence the tardiness of this report. Also, there is a self-imposed blanket ban on references to the musician Lou Reed in the following article.
Monday morning saw Sale Sharks announce the signing of Cardiff Blues lock Lou Reed as the replacement for the non-arrival of Juandre Kruger.
Reed, 28, began his career with the Celtic Warriors before joining the Scarlets (2006-2012), and later the Blues.
Standing at 6ft 6' and 18 stone 8 lbs, Reed has amassed five international caps with Wales since 2012 and was part of the 45-man preliminary training squad for the 2011 World Cup although he ultimately did not make the cut.
Unfortunately for Reed his arrival at Sale, at least for now, is destined to reside in the shadow of Kruger's sudden u-turn as supporters inherently compare the ability and impact of both players.
And although Reed's physical stature will add some sizeable bulk to Sale's already intumescent pack - especially alongside the more athletic Bryn Evans in the second row - it is probable that Kruger, with his superior ball-playing abilities, would have provided a more complete all-round impact to the Sharks in 2016-17.
That is not to say that Reed is not a good signing; after all Steve Diamond has a brilliant track record with acquiring lesser-heralded talents and turning them into indispensable members of the first team; Bryn Evans, Michael Paterson, Vadim Cobilas etc. etc. the list goes on.
And Reed's international recognition, relative youth, and corporeal gravitas all make him a prime candidate for a similar renaissance in Manchester this coming season.
Plus, with the lateness of Kruger's decision to renege - only weeks before pre-season training commenced - giving Diamond an extremely short timeframe to scout yet another new lock, this signing was never going to be a Brodie Retallickesque figure.
But whereas Kruger, as a South African international playing at the Top 14 champions, was a real statement of the Sharks' ambitious new era and who would have been an integral member of the Sale starting lineup this coming season, it is unclear whether Reed constitutes as significant an upgrade over the Sharks' other incumbent locks Andrei Ostrikov and Jonathan Mills.
Yet there is cause for optimism. At worst, Reed provides ample depth at a position where the Sharks were dangerously shallow last season. Between the Premiership and some massive Champions Cup clashes Sale will need top make full use of all four of their current locks in order to remain consistently competitive from September to May.
And at best, Reed's heroic performances alongside Bryn Evans in leading Sale to the top-four once again re-affirms Steve Diamond's reputation as one of the game's savviest market operators.
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