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Sale sign Alex Groves just eight days after surprise Bristol exit

By Kim Ekin
(Photo by Bradley Collyer/PA Images via Getty Images)

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Sale have snapped up Alex Groves, the South African-born ex-England U20s lock who last week left Bristol by mutual consent. Bears boss Pat Lam, who signed the 6ft 8in, 120kg second-rower in January 2020 for his academy, explained: “When we looked at it and weighed up everyone at this stage of the season, he is not what we are looking for.”

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The sudden exit of Groves from Bristol opened the door to Sale, who confirmed their signing of the forward on a long-term contract eight days after his exit from Ashton Gate. A Sharks statement read: “Sale are delighted to confirm the signing of promising lock Alex Groves on a long-term contract.

“The towering 21-year-old, who was born in South Africa but has represented England at U20s level, joins Sharks after leaving Bristol Bears. Alex joined Bristol Bears on a two-year deal in January 2020 after leaving St John’s College in Cape Town, South Africa.

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“The 6ft 8in, 120kg second-rower was called up to the England U20 squad for the 2020 Six Nations and the following year was named in the 32-man elite player squad for the 2021 U20 championships. He made his first appearance for the Bears in a Premiership Rugby Cup clash against Worcester Warriors in November.”

Sale boss Alex Sanderson, who has Exeter and England second row Jonny Hill signed for next season, added: “Alex has all the attributes to be a really top player and I can’t wait to see him in action. He is still young but he is already a powerful guy with all the skills you need from a modern-day lock. This club is committed to giving young players opportunities, so Alex knows that if he works hard and develops in the way we believe he can, he has got a big future here.”

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Groves, who has immediately joined up with the Sale squad, said: “I’m hugely excited to have signed. Honestly, it’s surreal to be training alongside greats of the game that I have grown up watching, admiring and learning from when I was at school.  

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“I am privileged to be part of such a great club. The first thing I noticed when I arrived is that this is a family, not just a rugby club. There is a spirit here that I have not experienced anywhere else and I’m really looking forward to working alongside Alex and all of the coaching staff. I’m looking forward to the opportunities that lie ahead of me here at Sale.”

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