- Haley will lean on previous South Africa experience
- Saxons play South Africa on Friday 10 June
Sale Sharks full-back Mike Haley expects his previous experience of playing in South Africa to be invaluable if he is selected to take on South Africa A for England Saxons in Bloemfontein on Friday.
The 21-year-old full-back had a spell in East London playing for the Border Bulldogs between his first and second year with Sale, who had arranged the move to aid his development.
He has since kicked on and earned a spot in the Saxons squad for their series against South Africa A and Haley knows that the physical battle will be key to the game.
“I trained in South Africa for a month before playing against the likes of Bulls, Sharks and Western Province, so I’ve played against a few of these tough South African boys, and you know their teams are going to be powerful and try to put you on the back foot,” he said.
“Sale gave me that bit of experience outside of the north of England, which was valuable for me and hopefully everything from that will come into fruition here.
“The boys are getting on very well, jumping into training and everyone’s talking, we’re very active to be the best team we can and we all want to get to that Elite Player Squad, and this is that first step for us.
“We’ve bonded us a group and we’re all looking forward to getting out there on Friday."
He added: “We’re learning the way different people play and it’s a great experience to see how other players and coaches play and go about the game. But now after a couple of weeks of training, we’re ready to get into this game on Friday and do everyone proud.”
Haley is joined in the Saxons squad by Sale teammates Ross Harrison and Sam James, with a mix of new faces and experienced heads included.
And after an impressive domestic campaign with the Sharks, Haley is desperate to make the most of this opportunity to wear the Red Rose after missed opportunities earlier in his career.
“It means everything,” he added. “You want to play for your country, and having the opportunity to play for the Saxons is a massive deal.
“I didn’t really get that chance coming through the age groups for one reason or another, so to be given that shot now at the end of a long season is brilliant and to do it with a few of the Sale boys is something I’m really looking forward to a lot.
“It’s up there [with career bests]. Playing for your country is something you strive for, especially with the team the Saxons have got at the moment – the talent in this group of lads is amazing.”