'There's a little bit of him that's forever going to be a part of the Sale DNA'
De Klerk signed for the Sharks in 2017 and quickly became a fans’ favourite with his livewire performances.
His displays for Sale helped him regain his spot in the Springboks set up, leading to the 30-year-old being a key part of their World Cup-winning squad.
But after five seasons at the Sharks, De Klerk will leave the Premiership outfit to join the Yokohama Canon Eagles in Japan.
“Special people leave an indelible mark, on you as a person and as an organisation,” Sanderson said
“As he goes on and moves on, I wish him all the best for him and his soon-to-be wife.
“There’s going to be a little bit of him that’s forever going to be a part of the Sale DNA, so we thank for him for that.”
Asked whether De Klerk had helped put Sale back on the map, Sanderson responded: “I hope so.
“The South Africans that are going have been an integral part of putting Sale on the map, it’s now up to us and these young lads – and this group of northern talent – all of whom were on display today. These lads need to take it on.”
Toby Fricker crossed the whitewash and Nathan Hughes scored a double in the second period to give the visitors some consolation, but Sale managed two of their own via Dan Du Preez and Arron Reed.
Sale’s director of rugby guided the club to the play-offs in his first season in charge but they were unable to repeat that feat this time around.
They finished in sixth position, five points outside the top four, but Sanderson still believes that it has been a positive campaign.
“There’s been a bit of growth. There was a bit more evolution than what was originally planned, rather than the revolution,” he said.
“Looking back, it’s been a successful season. There’s a bit of sadness when you don’t get what you want, but it’s only when you look back do you realise the friendships you’ve got and how you’ve grown.
“You’ve got to be content – rather than being a little bit sour that we didn’t make the play-offs. We’ve got to look at it as a whole.”
They certainly enjoyed a better campaign than Bristol, who went from the top of the table in 2020-21 to 10th.
The Bears missed out on Champions Cup qualification and director of rugby Pat Lam felt their performance at Sale was symptomatic of their whole season.
“We gave away some really soft tries from our own mistakes, our own errors,” Lam said. “We go on holiday for four weeks and then we’ll get back into work. We’ve got to improve our fundamentals.
“We scored a great 100-metre try, but it was from a forward pass, and then another potential try we lost the ball – and that sort of sums it up.
“We’ve got to put a lot more pressure on individuals to improve these skills and also pressure on ourselves as coaches.”
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