Alex Sanderson has paid tribute to Steve Diamond, the man he is replacing as Sale Sharks director of rugby, and insisted he is not jumping into an “open grave”.

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Diamond quit his role last month for personal reasons and Sanderson, who has arrived from Saracens, said: ”I haven’t got a bad word to say about Steve Diamond because has only ever done good things by me. He signed me from school when I was 16 and then took me to Saracens and gave me my first break in coaching at Sarries when I was injured. I wouldn’t be here now but for that man. I spoke to him this morning and he is in Dubai drinking pina colados and he wished me well which meant a lot because I would hate to think I was jumping into an open grave. That is not the case and I am not going to tear down anything he has built and I am just going to add to it.

“I would love to face Leicester and Steve Borthwick (former Saracens teammate) in the first game and in this present situation it about thinking outside the box. You have to learn from your losses. From my time at Saracens I know the lessons in winning are fleeting but if you open yourself up to why you lost the lessons are bigger. The ability to build excites me and it gives us the chance to redefine who we are as a club.

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The RugbyPass Offload: Ep 12

“We have the raw materials but there will be a little journey of rediscovery in terms of COVID and Dimes leaving and that is the first priority.”

Sanderson has already spoken to acting head coach Paul Deacon about the season to date and expects to work with the current management although he will have overall control of the club. He explained: “I am on the journey, player, captain to coach and similar to the many hats Dimes wore. Coming back to Sale was an obvious motivator but way down the list in terms of reasons for making the move. It was 17 years ago and I am no illusions that it will be the same and I am looking forward to creating a new home in an old place.

“The potential of the club – not just the talent they have on the field but also the coaches – is massive. Paul Deacon is a supremely talented coach and Mike Forshaw had the best defence better than the (Saracens) Wolfpack and Dorian West has vast experience from Northampton. I am coming into a well established structure and it not for me to tear down and impose my philosophies from the start and I just want to add to what they have already built.

“I need to get my feet under the table and it is a collaboration with the other coaches and I have done my analysis over the last three or four games when they haven’t been at their best and they know that. They have the raw talent to really kick on. They are a massive squad and you have to win the collisions first so fortunately for them and me we are on the same page.

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“Brendan Venter always has nice things to say about me but I wouldn’t say I am some kind of cultural expert on dealing with South African mannerisms but in any sport as long as you are willing to listen people will take you as they find you. I want to see what makes them tick.”

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