Sale's Simon McIntyre hopes to make Manchester proud in final

‘I’m Trinidad to the bone’: Sale’s Simon McIntyre has brought a Caribbean flavour to the club’s title charge and is proud of his roots… but this weekend he hopes to make Manchester proud in the Gallagher Premiership final

  • Sale face Saracens in the Gallagher Premiership final on Saturday afternoon 
  • Simon McIntyre has brought a Caribbean flavour to the club’s title charge
  • He is hoping to help Sale to their first title triumph since the 2005-06 season

Surrounded by a gang of big South Africans in the Sale pack, Simon McIntyre has brought a Caribbean flavour to the club’s title challenge – which could culminate in a carnival at Twickenham.

The 32-year-old prop has become a formidable home-town asset since returning to Manchester, where he was born and raised, after spending a decade at Wasps. But as well as his local roots, McIntyre is proud of his family heritage from the far side of the Atlantic.

If Sale beat Saracens in the Premiership Final on Saturday, there is bound to be one particularly noisy party among the northern hordes in the stands, in keeping with Trinidadian tradition. ‘There’s a lot of dancing in Trinidad,’ said McIntyre. ‘It’s a big thing.

‘There’s the Trinidad carnival, which my dad’s just come back from. The dancing, the food, the music… Trinidadians are usually the loudest in the room when it comes to all that! It’s about enjoyment. It’s about fun. That’s how I try to live; enjoy it as much as possible.’

Before rugby took over completely, McIntyre grew up playing and watching cricket, and supporting the icons from Trinidad and all the other tiny islands which dominated that sport for so long. There was always a vibrant atmosphere.

Simon McIntyre hopes to inspire Sale to success in the Gallagher Premiership final

He hopes to make Manchester proud when Sale play Saracens on Saturday afternoon

‘Of course I love cricket – I’m Trini to the bone, man,’ he said. ‘I was a batsman. I think my dad was a bit heartbroken when it went rugby’s way with me! But my experiences in cricket didn’t quite align with me at a young age and rugby just felt like the right fit.

‘Brian Lara is from Trinidad – Dwayne Bravo too. Shivnarine Chanderpaul was one of my favourite players growing up. During the height of West Indies cricket, when they played at Old Trafford, we’d all go down to watch and I just remember it used to be a party in the stands.

‘That’s what I grew up with; West Indian culture and the spirit of a celebration. That’s something I would love to see more in rugby, in sort of being more open and free. The intensity of the game is entertainment in itself and there should be a celebration of that; a party atmosphere.

‘My dad’s always playing Parang, Soca music when I’m around – it’s on whether I like it or not! So it’s something that constantly surrounds me and is a part of me. I would spend time over there with family in school holidays, and I think that was a very deliberate move on my parents’ part, to give me and my siblings a very strong sense of self, of where we’ve come from. I’m very proud of my heritage. It’s a really important part of who I am today.’

Music is one primary means of identifying with his Caribbean heritage, but there is also a culinary aspect which McIntyre readily embraces. ‘One of my favourite things to eat is a dish called doubles,’ he said. ‘It’s like a chapati with split chickpeas and a curried mango. When you come out of Piarco Airport in Trinidad, around the corner there are street stands that sell them for the equivalent of 10 or 20p. It’s just unbelievable.

‘From certain shores in Trinidad, you can see Venezuela on a clear day. There’s Spanish, Indian and black culture all mixed together. It’s a beautiful mix, and you get a lot of amazing food off the back of it.’

When he was younger, most weekends were spent visiting relatives in Leeds from his mother’s side of the family, who had emigrated from the island of Nevis. But alongside the exotic ancestry, McIntyre is also a proud Mancunian, who loves the ‘great vibe’ in the city. ‘The sport is buzzing, the music scene is amazing and I really like tapping into that,’ he said. ‘It’s just a great place to live.’

His move back up north from Wasps has been a personal triumph, as the veteran has earned regular starts in the Sale front row as an increasingly influential figure in the title charge, despite having to compete for the No 1 shirt against England loosehead, Bevan Rodd. McIntyre – who switched to tighthead when he was younger, until Dai Young convinced him to switch back again – has had a fine campaign and now one last, grand instalment awaits.

Sale Sharks owner Simon Orange celebrates after his side qualifies for this weekend’s final

Sale are hoping to win the Premiership title for the first time since the 2005-06 season

‘Personally, this has been a great season for me and I’m very grateful to the coaches for putting a lot of faith in me,’ he said. ‘As a team, we pride ourselves on our physicality and it’s that consistency of being physical each game which gives you respect in this team. It’s a non-negotiable for us.

‘As a prop, I’ve hit a lot of scrums over the years, so with the young players coming through, it has challenged me to articulate the lessons I’ve learned about scrummaging to them. Being able to explain it has improved my understanding of what it is that I do.’

McIntyre has harnessed the benefits of meditation and yoga to enhance his career, and add to the natural advantage of strong sporting genes which run in the family. His mother, Wilma, is the sister of former England striker Brian Deane, who represented several leading football clubs including Sheffield United, Leeds United, Middlesbrough and Leicester City.

He had many years gracing the big stage, now it is his nephew’s turn to be the party-starter.

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