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'AJ walks in and he's all flustered, like all red and stressed...'

By Liam Heagney
(Photo by Jan Kruger/Getty Images)

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Alex Sanderson has explained the drama that happened AJ MacGinty last weekend, the Sale out-half pulling out of Sunday’s Heineken Champions Cup match at Clermont just hours before the squad was due to leave for France. There was no drama on Friday lunchtime when the Sharks confirmed their team for the round three tie, Sanderson naming the soon-to-be 32-year-old to start at Stade Marcel-Michelin.

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However, the Dublin-born USA international was soon scratched from the side as he learned that his wife was to be induced on Saturday and the arrival of their new daughter meant that MacGinty was to understandably miss a match that Sale went on to narrowly lose on a 25-19 scoreline

MacGinty is expected back in the Sale fold for this Sunday’s final-round pool match at home to the Ospreys and he will be welcomed back with a smile by Sanderson who had no qualms about the late rejig of his team for Clermont which saw Kieran Wilkinson, a rookie 22-year-old, elevated into the No10 jersey for his first-ever Champions Cup start.

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Rob Kearney and Alfie Barbeary – A Lion and a Wasp
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Rob Kearney and Alfie Barbeary – A Lion and a Wasp

Asked by RugbyPass if MacGinty would be available this weekend, Sanderson confirmed that he was and the director of rugby then proceeded to recall the drama that ensued last weekend when the out-half arrived flustered into the office at the Sale training ground in Carrington.

“Yes [McGinty is available]. He has had a little baby, and all the du Preezs are having kids – that is always a good sign that you have a good club, everyone starts breeding. I was chatting to Dan (du Preez), who is having one in a few weeks, about having a couple of days off to support his wife because it is their first kid. 

“And then I came off the training pitch and I was ‘AJ, is Sam not super pregnant?’ He was like, ‘Yeah, yeah’. This is on Friday and we were supposed to leave on the Saturday. So I am, ‘Do you want a day or two off?’ He goes, ‘No, no’. He goes, ‘Well, she has been for another scan and they are going to induce her at some point so when they do that I’ll have that day off and then she can go home, her friend is over from America and my mum is over and all that so she is fine. Once she gets home she is fine but I just need that day off’. 

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“That is on Friday lunchtime. Two hours later I am in the office looking over training and AJ walks in and he is all flustered, like all red and stressed. He was, ‘She has just had a scan, they are inducing her in the morning’. This is Saturday when we are supposed to go and I am, ‘Jesus, well there is your day off’, and we couldn’t get a flight for him on the Sunday so he missed out. 

“I think I tempted faith too much in asking did he want a day off and it happened to be on the day when we were travelling, that is why he was off. But you know what, there are bigger things in the game. I apologise to all our spectators who would rather have AJ play than be present at his daughter’s birth but that is the truth of it, that is what I believe. Some things are bigger than the game.”

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