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The critical Agustin Creevy pep talk appreciated by Alex Sanderson

By Liam Heagney
(Photo by Jan Kruger/Getty Images for Sale Sharks)

Alex Sanderson has revealed his delight that veteran Agustin Creevy outlined this week to him some situations that could derail the giddy ambitions of the high-flying Sale this season.

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It was June 30 when the most capped Argentina Test player of all time snapped up the offer of a one-year deal at the Sharks after being left clubless following the depressing demise of financially stricken London Irish at the end of the 2022/23 Gallagher Premiership season.

The 38-year-old featured in all seven of his country’s recent Rugby World Cup matches and although he was supposed to have a week’s break before getting stuck in with his new club in Manchester, he immediately helped out and has started all three of Sale’s most recent wins in the league.

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Director of rugby Sanderson had told his Argentine signing that the hooker position would be rotated once Luke Cowan-Dickie and Tommy Taylor were fully back up to speed, a tactic that begins on Friday night with Cowan-Dickie set to start for the first time for the Premiership leaders and Creevy providing backup from the bench.

In the meantime, the Sale boss has explained the rapport he quickly struck with Creevy and was enthused to hear his critical input over a midweek training ground coffee ahead of their AJ Bell showdown with Bath.

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“I’m not shy in sharing my affiliation towards the lads that I have some relationship with,” began Sanderson when asked by RugbyPass for his initial impression of Creevy, who played 24 minutes of the October 27 bronze medal match versus England in Paris the week before he made his try-scoring November 3 Sale debut in their 24-10 win over Gloucester.

“Just the mere fact that he calls me amigo is enough. He is brilliant. He wasn’t supposed to come in that first week. I did give him that week off but because we were so short through injuries, I had to drag him away from Reading whilst his wife had solicitor exams in London. He came up on a plane on Thursday morning to do the team run and just slotted in so easily.

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“With him, Luke Cowan-Dickie and Tommy Taylor, because they have got so much experience we will be able to rotate them. It will certainly happen the next four weeks because you have to and when I mentioned this coming down the line, he was like, ‘I get it, this is not tennis we are playing, it’s a team game and I trust you’.

“So already we have got a level of trust with Gus. As long as I am honest with him he is very much on board with everything we are doing. I’m just surprised that he doesn’t get injured. We have just had a coffee and I said, ‘What things could derail us, what things can take us away from our aspirations?’

“He talked a bit about discipline and maybe people turning up five, six minutes late for a gym session. He said there were a few there this morning, which is great for him to see those standards, and he said people not training. He said, ‘I don’t agree with people just getting through a week and just preserving themselves for a weekend’.

“So not only does he play every week he trains every week. I don’t know how he quite does it apart from a consistency of application. He still very much loves the game. He loves coaching it in terms of helping the other lads, how he was with the young lads in the scrummaging session today.

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“It’s never a dig measure and it’s never Machiavellianism with him. He wants to get everyone around him better and all those things contribute to his mental health and his drive and want to be there. That’s generally the first thing that goes, not the body. Like, if you have just had enough of putting it in week in, week out, which he clearly hasn’t, that is one thing.

“But he is a lot bigger and thicker than what he looks like on camera. Everything about him, his wrists and his arms and his shoulders, he makes the props look quite small when he is up against them. He looks relatively small compared to the Montoyas but he’s not. He is quite a sturdy character.”

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Creevy will celebrate his 39th birthday next March at Sale and his durability is proof that top-flight rugby professional rugby can be an old man’s game if you look after yourself. “That is what we might have over some of the European clubs moving forward, not treating them like a piece of meat, having proper care and infrastructure around them as players from a young age so they are able to have longer, lasting careers,” reckoned Sanderson.

“You probably have seen a bit of that over the last couple of years with Mike Brown, Jimmy Gopperth and Chris Ashton but less so in the forwards. But there is a sure sign that if you are robust enough and look after yourself you can last a while. He is a great signing for us, a really good signing for us.”

Sale (vs Bath, Friday): 15. Joe Carpenter; 14. Tom Roebuck, 13. Rob du Preez, 12. Sam Bedlow, 11. Arron Reed; 10. George Ford, 9. Gus Warr; 1. Bevan Rodd, 2. Luke Cowan-Dickie, 3. Nick Schonert, 4. Cobus Wiese, 5. Jonny Hill, 6. Ernst van Rhyn, 7. Ben Curry (capt), 8. Dan du Preez.? Reps: 16. Agustin Creevy, 17. Simon McIntyre, 18. James Harper, 19. Josh Beaumont, 20. Sam Dugdale, 21. Nye Thomas, 22. Sam James, 23. Tom O’Flaherty.

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