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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.

“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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Shaylen 2 hours ago
Jack Willis' Champions Cup masterclass proves English eligibility rules need a rethink

If France, Wales, England, Scotland and Ireland got together and all changed their eligibility laws in the same way SA has it would be absolutely bonkers. All players from all nations involved in Europe would be fair game as would their coaches. The investment in rugby would be supercharged as teams would rush to create dream teams. Transfer markets would be super charged, salary caps may change, private investment would grow as rich backers first buy clubs and then put money into their clubs in an effort to land the best players. The richest clubs and franchises would benefit most but money and players would move across borders at a steady flow. Suddenly countries like Wales and Scotland would have a much larger pool of players to select from who would be developed and improved in systems belonging to their rivals within superstar squads while their clubs receive large sums in the transfer market. The Six Nations would experience a big boost as the best players become available all the time. The Champions cup would become even more fiercely contested as the dream teams clash. Fan engagement would grow as fans would follow their favourite players creating interest in the game across the continent. Transfer markets and windows would become interesting events in themselves, speculation would drive it and rumours of big transfers and interest in players would spread. All of this is speculation and much of it would not eventuate straight away but just like in football the spread of players and talent would create these conditions over time. The transfer markets in European football is proof of this. Football had the same club vs country debate eons ago and favoured an open system. This has made it the largest game in the world with global interest and big money. Rugby needs to embrace this approach in the long run as well

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Jon 8 hours ago
Waratahs 'counter-culture' limits Wallaby options for Joe Schmidt

This is a bit dramatic for me, I think the Rebels and Force cultures would be very strong, and if a player is chosen from either, you can be confident they are in a good head space and ready. Whether they quite have the technical or tactical foundations of the other two states is where one would way their risk of selection. I see no need for Schmidt to worry about that risk in this squad. The main reason I could see a predominance of players from Brumbies and Reds, is simple cohesion. What might the coaching group make of what’s lacking in the Tahs, and to a lesser extent Rebels and Force’s, franchise? Certainly sides (players) that are running irish plays like we saw from that lovely McDermott long ball with have a head start. I hope the players can continue it at International level. Really liked what I saw of Wright (don’t know player focus and just hadn’t seen a lot of him anyway) in that game, can see him being a glue in a Wallaby side too. A with the similar worry of selecting players like Ryan, I think it unfounded to worry so much about forward balance at the moment. Including both Wright and Skelton in the same lineout is not going to lose you games gainst Wales. Nor will any unknown weakenss Wales might find in Ryan be exploited to any great extent. It is the perfect time to introduce such a young player. What other shortcuts might Schmidt want to make now, just a year out from hosting BIL? When Gamble came on the scene I thought he had a Pocock ability to break game apart along with performing the role of a openside well. I would be very keen to drop Leota/Hooper for Gamble, and in your squad make up, include Uru as a lock. Did you forget to remove Vunivalu from your team? Would you have Meafou in your squad if you could?

114 Go to comments
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