The former Heywood Road star is confident his old club can perform in the third tier.

Chris Mayor believes Sale FC can be extremely competitive in National One, but insists the club will have realistic goals heading into the third tier.

The men from Heywood Road clinched the National Two North title last season, just three years after they won promotion to the division.

It meant Sale’s upward journey through the National Leagues continued and with the likes of Caldy, Bishop’s Stortford and Old Elthamians all holding their own in their maiden campaigns in National One last term, the Manchester based-club will be hoping to follow suit.

Mayor left Sale FC at the end of last season after five years with the club and admits his old side can show their qualities in National One.

“Nobody thinks they are going to suddenly come and tear that league apart, but if it happens, that is what everyone would want!”, Mayor said. “That would be the dream!

“However, they are very grounded. They have made some good signings and they have got a good mix of youth and some older heads. They have also got quite a few Sharks players from the academy who are going to be involved heavily this year.

“It is not something you necessarily always say, but if you can avoid relegation in your first season, you can build after that but to finish around mid-table or higher would be a success Sale would take.”

Mayor helped guide Sale FC to National One, but he has recently opted for a player/coach role at Lancashire/Cheshire Division One side Southport.

After seeing Sale progress, Mayor revealed it was a tough decision to leave the club behind, especially after finishing on such a high.

He added: “I enjoyed every single minute there. It was with a heavy heart that I left but, I felt like it was a good time to change and it was the right time to take up this opportunity on the coaching side of things.

“It was a massive decision to leave everybody because with Sale FC, they are now at quite a pinnacle of the club’s heritage now they are in National One, but I am not getting any younger and I think it’s about time I let the young kids have a go!”

Sale has always been a place close to Mayor’s heart. The 36-year-old began his professional rugby union career with Sale Sharks in 2003 and made over 80 appearances for the club.

During his six years at Edgeley Park, Mayor also won the Premiership- scoring in the 2006 final against Leicester Tigers at Twickenham – and the versatile back revealed winning England’s top division is the standout moment in his career.

“It is one of the things I get asked; ‘What was it like to win the Premiership’ and it is a really hard question,” he said.

“People imagine it as the best thing ever and it is just elation, but you can’t actually put your finger on what it feels like. It will stay with me for all my life as the best time in my career.

“Playing for England Sevens and the Barbarians are up there as highlights, but having only done it once, winning the Premiership is top of the list because some players will never experience that.”

The next stage of Mayor’s career is now with Southport and the club will be hoping his experience and expertise can help them kick on this season.

Neil Ryan’s side finished ninth last term and Mayor, who has taken up the position of backs coach at the Recreation Ground, is keen to help Southport move in the right direction.

Mayor said: “When I first joined the club, one of the reasons I did go was because they have got some great backers in terms of the people who run the club.

“They have great ambitions to go up the leagues and that is one of the main reasons which stood out for me.

“It is just about me trying to put my stamp on a few things in terms of the backs and how we want to play and we are looking good.

“The ambition is to finish higher than we did last year so it is just building on that and we are going into the season with confidence so we will see how it unfolds.”

Mayor may have the title of player/coach this season, but he still has his sights set on being involved on the pitch as much as he can whilst also honing his skills as a coach.

He continued: “The way it works at the moment is that myself and Neil bounce ideas of each other. I input things in the backs and help Neil where I can.

“I think my influence in the first year will be massively on the pitch. I am involved in training, but my experience and guidance I will bring will be during games.

“Coaching is something I have thought about. The opportunity came about and I thought it is now or never.

“I am going to build on my coaching badges and then if it is something I like, I might pursue it and hopefully progress, but if not, I have given it a good go and I will be happy with where I am.”

Mayor’s old club Sale FC begin the new National One season away at Cambridge, whilst his new side Southport travel to Fleetwood.