Former Saracens second row Jim Hamilton has made a startling claim about the likelihood of the London club losing assistant coach Alex Sanderson to Sale Sharks, the Manchester side who are looking for a successor to replace their recently departed director of rugby, Steve Diamond.

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Ex-England back row Sanderson was capped five times in a career where he played for Sale and Saracens, retiring in 2005 with a back injury. He became senior team forwards coach at Saracens three years later and has gone on to carve out a respected reputation with the club he has seen transformed from top-flight strugglers into serial title winners in England and in Europe. 

Now 41 and currently forwards/defence coach under Mark McCall, Sanderson has had a quiet winter as Saracens have been in on-pitch limbo since the end of their 2019/20 Premiership campaign on the first weekend of October. 

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Automatically relegated to the Championship for repeated breaches of the salary cap, they are not due to start their second-tier league campaign until March, a window that has afforded Sale ample time to seek out the services of Sanderson after Diamond quit last month due to personal reasons. 

The prospect of Sanderson leaving Saracens has filled his former player Hamilton with angst, the retired Scotland lock telling The Rugby Pod how invaluable the assistant coach has been to the London club for more than a decade.

“I’m gutted,” said Hamilton. “If this happens, which it looks like it is, Alex Sanderson to Sale is huge for Sale. Alex Sanderson for me is the biggest loss at Saracens bar an Owen Farrell or a Maro Itoje just because of what he brings to the environment. 

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“Hands down, he is one of the most engaging coaches I have ever worked with and for. So, so positive when refocusing the team. I know it is easy to do when you are winning but huge if Sale get him. It’s massive for them but from a Saracens perspective I’m gutted.”

Rugby Pod co-host Andy Goode agreed that Sanderson would be an excellent recruit for the Manchester club. “From a Sale perspective, there are 500,000 reasons why Alex Sanderson is going to Sale Sharks,” said the ex-England out-half.  

“But you look at that Sale Sharks squad and you put someone like Alex Sanderson in charge, who has got empathy, thinks outside the box, a brilliant motivator, the impact just as an out-and-out forwards coach, I haven’t ever heard anyone have a bad word to say about Alex Sanderson, the detail that he brings as well. 

“He could transform Sale into a year-on-year top Premiership team. We have had Simon Orange come on here who was very upfront and honest with us, a really good guy who has put his heart and soul into the club. 

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“Alex Sanderson, a Manchester lad taking over at Sale, obviously well remunerated for it and rightly so, has the potential with the backing of someone like Simon Orange, who has invested a lot in the club already, to really transform that club into something long term which is at the top of the game.

“They are talking about their new stadium as well, which will have a big impact. It’s a massively exciting time to be a Sale Sharks fan.”

 

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