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What Saracens make of Alex Sanderson's first return as Sale boss

By Liam Heagney
(Photo by Dan Mullan/Getty Images)

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Saracens are getting ready for this Sunday’s first return of former long-serving assistant Alex Sanderson, who quit the London club last January to become a rookie director of rugby at Sale, the team he played for in the Premiership before heading to the English capital in 2004. Sanderson went on to become a treasured part of the fabric at Sarries,  especially during the Mark McCall era, and the line of communication didn’t end when he chose to switch to a rival club ten months ago.   

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Instead, the relationship of McCall and Sanderson is as tight as ever, Sanderson regularly mentioning at his weekly media briefings how frequently he is on the phone chewing the fat with his Saracens mentor and regularly speaking highly of the club that has impressively bounced back from its Championship ordeal.

Sunday’s game at the StoneX, however, will be the first time that McCall and Sanderson will pit their wits directly against each other, but one-upmanship won’t be the story of the late November weekend. Instead, it will be about rekindling a friendship face to face.  

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“We are going to meet up over the weekend, whether that is before or after the match I am not 100 per cent sure,” explained McCall about Sanderson, his old Saracens buddy. “Sale have a weekend off next weekend so he is staying around for a bit. 

“He is a good friend and is someone, not just me but everyone else at Saracens, who we have got the most enormous respect for. He is smart, an intelligent coach. It’s always good from that point of view but it is what it is, just one of those matches.”

The fear will be that Sanderson still has too much of an inside track on what makes Saracens tick. “We won’t be worrying about that too much and just get on with the task at hand. Teams understand and know each other well these days because it is each to with the analysis that you do. Most teams just spend a great deal of time just concentrating on themselves which is what we are going to do,” reckoned McCall.

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“The first part of the season for us, the first seven games that we played, it has been okay. There have been patches where we have shown glimpses of what we are capable of but we have not been consistent enough during games, not really from game to game. There is a real appetite in the club and in the group for us to be a bit more consistent with the stuff we have been doing.”

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