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How a Joe Worsley chat has Sale braced for their Toulouse rematch

By Liam Heagney
(Photo by Valentine Chapuis/AFP via Getty Images)

Sale boss Alex Sanderson has explained how a chat with Joe Worsley, his fellow ex-England international back-rower, has helped to brace the Sharks for this Saturday’s Heineken Champions Cup rematch with Toulouse. The Gallager Premiership club were defeated 19-45 in France four weeks ago but they are hoping to much better cope with the unpredictable nature of the French team’s attack back at the AJ Bell.

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Currently second in the Gallagher Premiership following impressive recent wins over Leicester and Harlequins, there will be a huge expectation on Sale when they run out in front of a bumper attendance versus Toulouse even though the match will clash with the Premier League football derby between City and United.

The healthy demand for tickets underlines the attraction of the visit to Manchester of Toulouse, the 2021 double European/Top 14 champions, and Sanderson is in no doubt about the challenge awaiting his Sale team. “Unpredictability is a good word,” he said when asked what he expects to see from the French visitors.

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“I spoke to Joe Worsley actually, he coached down in France and is doing a masters in being a director of rugby, so he is calling around all these people and he spoke to Toulouse. The way they base their coaching is around that one person with the ball, how can you beat the person in front of you as opposed to coming from a structured situation like we generally do here, there is your set-piece and your back line attack?

“It’s more of a one-on-one challenge, how can you actually get around and beat that person in front of you to keep the ball alive? The mentality of how English players are brought up and how you are brought up if you are from Toulouse is one of immediately not joie but what skill set you have, where is the opportunity to get that advantage to beat the man in front of you.

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“The outcome of that is their unpredictable nature, that is what you see, the quick taps, the quick throws but they are a well-coached team, they are good from set-piece. Forty per cent of their tries are first phase, 76 per cent are the first three phases which shows you the nature of their attack.

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“There is only really probably Quins and maybe Gloucester at their best – and I put Sarries in there – who have that ability in the Prem to strike that fast, to be that unpredictable.”

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