Self-congratulation is over as Sale prepare to host Saints in season opener

Alex Sanderson says the time for self-congratulation is over as his Sale Sharks side prepare to start the new Gallagher Premiership season at home to Saints on Sunday.
Alex Sanderson (photo by Nathan Stirk/Getty Images)Alex Sanderson (photo by Nathan Stirk/Getty Images)
Alex Sanderson (photo by Nathan Stirk/Getty Images)

The Sharks enjoyed a hugely impressive 2022/23 campaign, finishing second in the league standings before going to the grand final at Twickenham.

They caused real problems for Saracens, but it was Mark McCall's men who eventually prevailed in the showpiece, winning it 35-25 to take the title.

Sale have big ambitions once again as the new season edges ever closer.

But Sanderson knows what happened last season will count for little when his team kick off at the AJ Bell Stadium this weekend.

“Having got to that point, the goalposts shift again," Sanderson said. "As the hangover subsides, so does the self-congratulation and it’s onto the next job.

“No man ever steps in the same river twice and we’ve used that approach with the lads – you grow, the environment is different, and you have to understand what’s driving you anew.

“Then on the back of that, it’s about how you move your game and shift it forward.

“One of the major differences between ourselves and the other successful teams globally like Crusaders, Leinster and La Rochelle is their efficiency and ability to take opportunities in attack.

“We feel like we can go toe-to-toe with any team at the set piece and we have to prove that again this year. By taking those chances and maximising them is somewhere we’re looking to grow.”

Sanderson saw plenty of development in his side last season.

And he added: “I think the positivity around last year was justified.

“As directors of rugby, we probably couldn’t work any harder but once you look back and realise all the sacrifices you’ve made being a moody husband and bad dad, you have to say well was it worth it? I think it was, so it was time well spent.

“We saw some growth and I think there was an awakening for some of the younger lads that they’ve got the minerals.”

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