Sale have appointed Alex Sanderson as their director of rugby to end the former England’s flanker’s long association with Saracens.
Sanderson will leave north London to join the club where he began his playing career, filling the vacancy left by Steve Diamond’s departure from the AJ Bell Stadium for family reasons.
The 41-year-old has carved out a formidable reputation as an assistant-coach to Saracens boss Mark McCall during a trophy-laden spell, overseeing the forwards and defence.
McCall says that Sale, who in recent weeks have been guided by Paul Deacon, are recruiting one of the best in the business.
“Alex is one of the leading coaches of his generation, blending comprehensive technical and tactical knowledge with an in-depth understanding of the people in his care,” McCall said.
“His creativity, ability to articulate message and ferocious desire to improve players, sets the standard of what it is to be a modern day coach.”
Chester-born Sanderson arrived at Saracens in 2004 having made 90 appearances for Sale since 1998 and it was while playing for the Sharks that he won his five England caps.
— Sale Sharks 🦈 (@SaleSharksRugby) January 15, 2021
A year after switching clubs, he was forced to retire because of a back injury and immediately moved into coaching.
The former back row and Sale captain has been granted early release from his Saracens contract and heads north with immediate effect.
“I’m joining a club I know all about from my time here, but things have moved on massively since those days and the opportunity to come back home and achieve something special was just too good to turn down,” Sanderson said.
“After speaking to the owners and others at the club, it was obvious that there’s a huge amount of ambition and a real growth mindset here and that’s something that really stood out for me.
“There’s a fantastic amount of talent in the squad too – that’s clear for everyone to see – and the progress in recent years is a credit to all the players and the efforts of everyone behind the scenes.
“But I also believe there’s so much more potential to unlock here. I don’t think we’ve even begun to scratch the surface of what this club is capable of.
“Moving on from Saracens was a decision I had to think long and hard about, but I just felt the time was right to start a new chapter.
“I learnt so much during my time there. I achieved a lot and made some friends for life, but ultimately the chance to put my own stamp on things and create a legacy at Sale Sharks and for rugby in the North West is what really excited me.
“I’m determined to give everything I have for this club and I can’t wait to get started.”