Sale Sharks Director of Rugby Alex Sanderson has pledged his long-term future to his boyhood club by agreeing a new three-year contract. 

The 44-year-old, who played his junior rugby at Littleborough before going onto Preston Grasshoppers, began his professional career at Sharks in 1998. 

He went on to make 90 appearances for the club, with his leadership qualities earning him the club captaincy at the age of just 20. 

Alex received his first England call-up in 2001 and was part of a wider squad initially named ahead of the 2003 World Cup in Australia, although he missed out when the squad was cut from 35 to 33. 

A short spell at Saracens followed but a serious back injury forced him to retire at the age of just 26.  

Alex joined Mark McCall’s coaching team at Saracens and took charge of the forwards and the defence as the club won five Premiership titles and three European Cups. 

He returned home to Manchester in January 2021 and made an immediate impact as his Sharks side secured a place in the end of season play-offs. The following year, Alex led his team to a first appearance in the Premiership final for 17 years. 

He said: “I love it here and there are so many reasons to want to stay for at least three more years, and build on what we’ve already achieved. 

“The group that I’ve grown to know and love is a group that I want to spend time with. I feel like we’re just getting to know each other better and when you build that trust, things start to fire on the pitch. 

“The ambitions of the club are aligned with my own. I think our ambitions have grown given the taste we had and how close we got last season.  

“That’s not enough for us and collectively, from the owners down, we’re pulling towards greatness. I really believe we can create a powerhouse in the north and a lasting legacy, and that comes down to the passion we all share. 

“I’m also a proud northerner and to be able to coach and live in this part of the world, where I come from, is reason to get up in the morning. 

“It’s an exciting time for everyone at the club and we’ve still got everything to play for this season. We’ve got four weeks to win it all, when four weeks ago, no-one gave us a chance. That’s driving me.” 

Sharks CEO Paul Smith said: “As a proud northerner and a former club captain, Alex embodies everything we want to be as a club and we have no doubt at all that he’s the man to drive us forwards to achieve what we all believe we can. 

“Since he arrived here three years ago, he’s created a team and a culture that everyone has bought into. There was never a doubt in my mind that I wanted Alex to stay and I’m so excited that he’s staying to continue building on what he’s started.” 

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