I should preface this article with the concession that should Mr Beaumont at any point this season inform the Sale coaching brass that he sees himself as a a Number 8 and not a Lock, this entire article becomes meaningless.
In the barren rugby wasteland that is the North-West, star players (and even just 'good' ones) are difficult - albeit not impossible - to recruit for clubs like Sale. Bringing talented players through an academy therefore is an absolute necessity for the long term survival of smaller sides in unorthodox rugby markets like the Sharks.
Considering his performances last season and the huge potential he still has room to grow into, Beaumont is arguably the best player to come through Sale's academy in the last five, maybe even ten, years. So if Beaumont considers his future career to be based at the back, rather than the middle of the scrum and playing there would a) make him more comfortable and happy with his role within the club and b) make him more likely to commit to Sale long-term, then you play him where ever the damn hell he wants to play.
Beaumont is simply far too talented a player for Sale to let slip from their grasp over something as benign as his preferred position, especially as Beaumont's skillset, centred around his role as lineout captain and dominant ball-carrying, allows him to function equally as well (read: at a game-changing level) as either a Lock or a Number 8.
With that out of the way however it is my belief, so long as Sale and England's budding star has no oppositions to it, that Josh Beaumont should see the majority of his gametime this season playing as a Lock for Sale.
Beaumont's meteoric emergence as Sale's best Number 8 since Sebastian Chabal last season was astounding to watch for sure, so why am I so keen to move the next possible Sale captain away from a position that he ranked as one of the best in the league at last season, aged only 23?
It comes down to a matter of managing assets.
With a squad as small as Sale's, versatility to play multiple positions is an absolute necessity to being considered a weekly starter. Beaumont's ability to cover both the second and backrows only adds to the importance of his role within the club, and injury-free fitness permitting, that ability will ensure Beaumont will be one of the first names on the team sheet every week, regardless of which position he starts at.
However a closer look at Beaumont's fellow players as part of the back-five of the Sale pack should hopefully explain my reasoning why I believe the 23 year-old needs to be playing more as a Lock than an 8 this season.
One of the few adequately-deep positions in the current Sale squad is the backrow. Dan Braid, David Seymour, Magnus Lund, TJ Ioane, Vilhami Fihaki, Mark Easter and of course Beaumont, backed by youngsters Liam Parfitt and Andy Hughes give Sale a potent reserve of (mainly) Premiership quality players to field every single week. The reemergence of Vilhami Fihaki's previously-absent form in preseason and TJ Ioane's quality showings for Samoa at the World Cup have only added to the excitement surrounding Sale's collection of breakdown enthusiasts and smash-mouth ballcarriers heading into the new season.
Depending on scenario, injury or any number of qualifiers, Sale have the ability to chop and change their backrow to form any number of combinations, many of which I am sure will include Beaumont at Number 8.
The problem lies at Lock.
As impressed as I have been by Bryn Evans' early showings in a Sale shirt, there is no doubt in my mind (and there shouldn't be in yours either) that Josh Beaumont is not only Sale's best Number 8, he's also the best Lock at the club as well.
That's not to take anything away from Sale's current second row contingent of Evans, Jonathan Mills and Andrei Ostrikov. I am a huge fan of Mills' work ethic in securing hard yards, clearing out breakdowns and his mastery of the, ahem, "dark arts" of forward play. Similarly, nothing is more exciting to watch than Andrei Ostrikov in full-flight, huge arms looping around in the unorthodox ball-carrying style of his. The 6ft 6", 18 stone lock also adds a huge amount of muscle and power to Sale's pack, particularly useful in fixtures against the more powerful scrummaging sides in the league i.e. Saracens and Leicester.
However anybody who watched Beaumont last season is already aware that in terms of an all-round game, Beaumont is light years ahead of any of the three. Evans and Ostrikov might be capped internationals, but neither of them will achieve what Beaumont feasibly should if his continues on his current projectory.
So the situation is this; Sale have only three first-team Locks for a highly-demanding position that requires two to be on the field at all times. They have a collection of highly-skilled and in-form backrowers that allows them to put out a plethora of different combinations on any given week. And they have Josh Beaumont, one of the finest talents to come out of the club in recent years, an almost assured future England international (no there is not an Anti-Northern bias in the RFU) who's versatile skillset allows him to be equally dominant at either Lock or No.8.
If you haven't joined the dots together yet I shall do it for you; Sale do not have the depth of talent in the second row that they do in the backrow. Therefore even if it becomes apparent Beaumont is marginally better as an 8 than say a 5, he is so talented at either position that Sale can afford to move him into the second row, bolstering their weekly options there (Evans and Beaumont would become my go-to combination with possibly Ostrikov off the bench, EQP not permitting) and allow their pool of talent in the backrow to cover Beaumont's absence (Vilhami Fihaki and TJ Ioane could arguably be two of the most important players in the entire Sale squad this season).
Is it ideal? Probably not, I love Beaumont as a Number 8 and still hope Sale can bring in another lock post-World Cup to allow Beaumont to continue his fine form as a free-ranging No.8. However with Sale's current iteration of players considered, it just makes more sense in managing the squad to have Beaumont play predominately at Lock this season.
That is, unless he has any disagreements with it.
If Lewis Hughes was Sale coach he would probably let Josh Beaumont play inside centre if he wanted to. Follow SharkTankRugby on Twitter here, and Lewis' personal Instagram here.