Sales boss Alex Sanderson is keen to grab a catch-up beer on Saturday with his Sharks predecessor Steve Diamond – but there will be ‘no kind words’ before kick-off at the AJ Bell during visiting Worcester. It was 14 months ago – on December 8, 2020 – when it was announced that Diamond was leaving his role as director of rugby with the Manchester club after a decade in the role.
His exit came as a surprise, but it was later explained that some family bereavement left Diamond needing a break from the game and wanting to walk away. It opened the door to Sale to sign Saracens assistant Sanderson and the side he inherited reached the Gallagher Premiership semi-finals last June.
It was always inevitable, however, that Diamond would eventually return to the game and after speculation linking him with struggling Bath fizzled out, he appeared to be another top-flight wrestler instead.
His initial role at Worcester from late November was as a senior rugby consultant, but eight weeks later he took control of the entire rugby operation on the pitch and Saturday’s return to his Sale’s former stomping grounds will be his third game in charge of the Warriors. .
Despite 13 months in charge, Sanderson feels Sale is still more of a Diamond-owned club than he is and there will be a warm welcome – but only once the game is over. “It’s even more Steve’s club than mine. It really is,” Sanderson said heading into the Premiership Matchday 16 game. “The place still echoes him as it should, as he has been instrumental here for years.
“I’ve been back to Sale for 15 years from Saracens and every time I came back I was welcomed with open arms, my family got tickets that were easier to get in Sale than Saracens sometimes for the hospitality areas. That’s the kind of club this place is. Once you have been indoctrinated and accepted into the club, you are still part of the club, so it will be warmly welcomed, more after the 80 minutes than before. I’m sure there won’t be any kind words before kick-off, but I hope to have a beer with him afterwards.”
Sanderson, 42, went on to explain how he had many similarities to Diamond, 54, who he considered working with when his predecessor was still Sale boss. “Clubs take on traits or have historical and enduring styles of play and traits that have stuck with them for years, regardless of the directors of rugby and who has been in charge. You can browse them.
“Newcastle, when have they not been brave, stubbornly determined and annoyingly competitive? They always have been, no matter who’s been there. Since when has Quins never been like a fast and spectacular Harlem Globetrotters-style team, no matter who’s been there? It’s part of their DNA if you will.
“Dimes has been instrumental in my career as a coach, as a player. There are a lot of similarities that we share, values that are common. That’s why it was so easy for me to come here. I was talking to Dimes before this engagement to find out if we could work together so that means the place still resonates with him because in a lot of ways I’m not too different from him I’m just a bit younger and a little more beautiful!
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