Press Notes – Alex Sanderson

On his feelings ahead of his first game in charge at Sale: 

I’m managing to sleep at the moment, it didn’t happen last week as I was too excited! This week I’m just pumped and relishing the task at hand. I’ve been away and out of action for a bit with my old club, so returning to the Premiership earlier than expected brings its own anticipation and there’s also the trepidation of being Director of Rugby for the first time, but as I would be at Saracens, I’m just a cog in the wheel at Sale. Maybe a little bigger one because I have a different title, but as I have said to both the coaches and the players this week, we are a squad, this is a team effort, and we all have to contribute to the feeling in the week and the preparations for the weekend. One of the most exciting things about coming to Sale for me, was that I knew I wouldn’t have to convince the squad about some of the fundamentals I believe give you the platform for success in this game. As an example, physicality, for me, is one of those fundamentals. I played that way, I have coached that way for the last fifteen years and it’s a very difficult mindset to install, but they have it here in bucketloads already. You only have to look at the defensive record over the past couple of seasons to show that, but we have to make sure our mentality is spot on too if we want to have a chance of performing at the highest level consistently.

A Selection Update:

On the injury front, I think everyone knows about the big ones, Ben Curry, Manu Tuilagi and Lood de Jager are all out long term but are making good progress on their recovery. We also have Ross Harrison, working his way back from an ankle injury alongside Simon Hammersley and Rohan Janse van Rensburg who both have hamstring niggles at the moment. We have both du Preez twins serving suspensions too, but we are expecting Jean-Luc back next week which is a bonus.

On what changes he has made or wants to make so far: 

“We have a good group of coaches and they are well established, and they know the players well, so I wasn’t going to change any of their processes and coaching philosophy’s. What I have tried to do is give them direction and establish our identity, because it has to change especially with Covid and with Dimes leaving. At the moment we are discovering who we are and that process of defining why we are here and how we go about it is quite a lengthy one and were only eight days in so we will see how it goes.

On Leicester this weekend: 

There’s been a spike of energy around Carrington this week, probably because there’s a new voice in town and we’ve tweaked a few things, but I’m hoping that will transfer to the field in terms of our intensity on Friday. Borths (Steve Borthwick) has done a great job at Leicester so far, looking at the Bath game as an example, they were very intense and built really well throughout the game. Ford was exceptional, and they may miss his tactical kicking this weekend, but that wasn’t what won them the game, it was their tactical intensity throughout the whole 80 minutes. We have to match that on Friday. I think they are getting back to that ‘Old Leicester’ mentality where they challenge you at every opportunity, and that’s what we will have to deal with effectively.

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