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'Twickenham's not enough, I want the cup... I'm not celebrating yet'

By PA

Trending on RugbyPass

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Alex Sanderson is not content with simply a top-four place as the Sale Sharks director of rugby aims for Gallagher Premiership glory at Twickenham.

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Sale will feature in the play-offs for the first time since 2006 – the only occasion they have claimed the English title – but Sanderson still wants more from his squad.

They defeated fourth-placed Harlequins 45-12 on Friday to keep their hopes of a home semi-final alive and Sale’s boss has the title in his sights.

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“You’ve got to keep driving, there are three games left,” he said.

“Twickenham’s not enough, I want the cup. Everyone keeps saying, ‘you must be over the moon to make the play-offs?’ Well, I am, but we’ve got the opportunity (to win it). I’m not celebrating yet.”

Sanderson knows the challenge they will face, however, with Sale likely to play either Exeter Chiefs or Bristol Bears in the last four.

He said: “We’ve got to beat the top team maybe three times in one season and then, if not, Exeter twice, so the odds are stacked against us, but you would be a foolish person to bet against us.”

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Sale will hope to have Manu Tuilagi back for next week’s clash against Exeter, a game which will decide who gets a home semi-final.

Tuilagi was forced to self-isolate after coming into close contact with a member of staff that had tested positive for Covid-19.

Sanderson says, however, that the powerhouse centre should return to training on Thursday.

“Manu’s in great form but that is the environment we’re in,” he added. “Even if you’ve had a PCR test, a lateral flow test and they’re negative, you’ve still got to isolate.”

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The Sharks evidently did not need Tuilagi on Friday as they thrashed Harlequins and ended the Londoners’ chances of a home match in the play-offs.

It was a disappointing evening for Quins, who made 11 changes to their team, but coach Adam Jones does not believe that this result has dealt a psychological blow to his side.

“A lot of our boys have played a lot of minutes and we want them fresh for the semi-finals. When you get to the semi-finals, everyone’s good anyway,” Jones said.

“If you get to a European semi-final, everyone’s good, if you get to a Premiership semi-final, everyone’s a good side.

“Whoever we play on the day is going to be tough. We’ve managed to rest a few of our boys so we will get them firing for the Newcastle game and then on to the semi-finals.

“We’ve lost games and come back, it’s not like we’ve not lost a game since January. (When we have) we’ve bounced back pretty quickly the week after.

“We need to beat Newcastle to give us a nice bit of momentum but we know we’re in the semi-finals.

“We wanted boys to put their hands up tonight. Certainly, the usual suspects did but some probably didn’t.”

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'Twickenham's not enough, I want the cup... I'm not celebrating yet'

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