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'Some interest from Edinburgh who don’t mind poaching our players'

By Liam Heagney
(Photo by Tony Marshall/Getty Images)

Sale boss Alex Sanderson has delivered a mid-winter update about the Gallagher Premiership club’s contracting for the 2024/25 season. The league leaders have England stars such as George Ford and Manu Tuilagi up for renewal while up-and-coming talents like Gus Warr are also in negotiations.

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It was 2020, following the pandemic stoppage of rugby, when the PRL cut the league’s salary can by £1.4million, reducing it to £5m from the 2021/22 season. That figure is now set to return to £6.4m next season, but that additional largesse isn’t making life easier for Sanderson, who took over as director of rugby at Sale in January 2021.

“It’s creating a bit of tension for us,” he admitted about getting thing organised for next season at a time when Sale are leading the way in England with six wins in seven matches this term ahead of Friday night’s visit to Harlequins.

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“We are in negotiation with a few lads who have been with us for a while and understand what their market value looks like minus percentage because we believe we will look after them better. That is the policy we have gone with. Recruiting a strong squad – you can’t go top-end for anyone. There is always with more money more need, more space within their cap for a certain calibre or type of player.

“We have said we will be competitive but we can’t go top-end if we want to have as strong a squad as we have got. We are not looking to recruit in any one area, it’s more about retention of what we have at present. I will add this as a caveat, from my limited experience there are always two or three that you had planned for your future that have other plans for themselves and their families, that will happen.

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“All the cap increases are taken up by the increasing market value of our already resident players. We are quite proud of talking about the young squad that we have got, the mainly young squad that we have got. We have got the core of the squad which you will which is 24 years old and their salary rises as their experience and the market values does.

“We have eight people meeting Steve (Borthwick) next Tuesday, that has gone to eight from four to a couple when I first joined. With that increase in attention comes an increase in salary within the cap.

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“Gus Creevy had interest from Toulon before he came here. He turned them down because he wanted to be part of this. Some interest in Gus Warr from Edinburgh who don’t mind poaching our players, so we are in negotiations with him. Quite a long way in positive negotiations with him at the moment because we want to keep him.

“I’m sure someone will come in for Manu, but he turned down other offers last year to be here. No player has come to me and said, ‘I have got this and I want this’ as yet. We are still sitting down at the table with them, talking about our future.”

That said, Sanderson is braced to potentially lose some players he is hoping to keep at Sale. “It’s the brutal part of the job that you think you know where someone is at, you have got the best environment and you are building like we are and there is a lot of excitement around it and yet that doesn’t necessarily fit for everyone that you have made those plans for.

“Like, this is the squad we want for 25/26 but there were a few that left at the end of last season for family reasons. I have learned to cope with it better, it’s not about me, it’s never about me but not to take it personally and just understand that it is part of the job, there are always two or three you think you would have kept and probably two or three that you had other plans for.”

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