Alex Sanderson is calling in clinical psychologists to help his Sale Sharks players unlock their potential and deal with the pressure of professional rugby in the middle of a world-wide pandemic.

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Sanderson, who is two weeks into his role as director of rugby, is preparing his players to take on Premiership leaders Bristol on Friday night and believes using a specialist company will have long term benefits for the coaches and players at Sale.

He explained: “They are experts in sport and it’s not for everyone and will be case by case. The company is called Changing Minds and I have worked with them before and they have worked in cricket and the Olympics and probably one of the most experienced sporting psychologists out there. We will meet with them on Wednesday and I am looking forward to working in conjunction with them and the players. It is not a case of ‘here is a player he needs help’. It is about working with them to get the players in the best possible spot. If we get that right they will play better.

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Alex Sanderson talks to RugbyPass:

“The current situation has exaggerated peoples mental state so if you were a little bit stressed before then you are going to be more now. There are less people to talk to less support because of the restrictions. Sport and the economy is less stable and that emotional and financial security people need is less certain and so the more we can invest in peoples psychological well being the better. The club is open to it and to doing that.

“I do not have an open checkbook whatsoever! Any expense has to be well justified and certainly it was one of the assurances I was given coming in – one that I needed – was that we were going to invest in the infrastructure around the players. We have a good squad and great training facility but can we make the support the team and coaches have as good as everything else. That is potentially a place we have under-invested the past at Sale.

“There are a lot of young directors of rugby in the game and it isn’t an easy job and I am only two weeks into and it is going to get harder, miles harder. I don’t have a magic wand and there is no short cut and you need to surround yourself with people who can support you to improve and stay healthy and move forward.”

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