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The Sale reaction to the corner-cutting disadvantage no other Champions Cup quarter-finalist has had to put up with this week

By Liam Heagney
(Photo by PA)

Alex Sanderson has tried to play down the major preparatory disadvantage Sale find themselves heading into this weekend’s Heineken Champions Cup quarter-finals, the Gallagher Premiership club the only team in the last-eight who will have just six days in between their round of 16 and quarter-final matches. 


Adding to their sharp turnaround since last Sunday’s trip to Wales to beat Scarlets is the fact they must travel to France to take on a La Rochelle outfit who will have had eight days in between their Champions Cup games as they played their round of 16 tie at Gloucester last Friday, two days before Sale had their opportunity to progress in the tournament. 

When Sanderson conducted his weekly media duties last Tuesday evening, Sale had yet to get their preparations fully up to speed on a day when they were visited by England assistant Matt Proudfoot. “We had a tough game at the weekend, it was only Sunday so we have got a dome here Steve Diamond put up and it’s heated and it’s three degrees and snowing ten minutes ago outside.

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Northampton and Wales out-half Dan Biggar guests on RugbyPass All Access

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Northampton and Wales out-half Dan Biggar guests on RugbyPass All Access

“So we just got the dome heated and got inside and went through a lot of our launches and some of their launches to get the detail right so we haven’t really done anything at any intensity. We’ll step it up tomorrow [Wednesday] and crank it up again on Thursday.”

Sanderson is usually a stickler for preparations but he is hoping that this time constraints of the Sale six-day turnaround coming up against La Rochelle’s eight won’t be a negative as there was apparently work put in during the previous weeks knowing that they could find themselves in this corner-cutting situation.   

“It does (have an effect),” said the Sale boss when asked if having two days less than their French opponents to get ready would have an impact. “I’m a big one for preparation. Prepare well to play consistently well and it generally correlates to consistent performance. 

“That is what I have been used to in terms of my whole coaching career. The better the prep, generally the better the performance as long as it is not like three weeks when you don’t play. We find ourselves with two days less and then you have to make it more about mentality than preparation, don’t you? 


“You have to understand you are good enough, that you are in a right place, a good place in terms of mentality for the preparation that you have done in the weeks gone by – and we prepped well for a few weeks to be able to see it through for this weekend. That is just the necessity and the pragmatism of the week that we have got… we’re in a cup final and I can’t wait.”  

Champions Cup
La Rochelle (8 days) v Sale (6 days)
Exeter (7 days) v Leinster (14 days)
Bordeaux (7 days) v Racing (7 days)
Clermont (8 days) v Toulouse (8 days)

Challenge Cup 
Bath (7 days) v London Irish (7 days)
Leicester (7 days) v Newcastle (7 days)
Montpellier (8 days) v Benetton (7 days)
Northampton (7 days) v Ulster (6 days)


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