Saracens have the chance to book a place in the final of the LV=Cup on Sunday when they travel to Salford City Stadium to face Sale Sharks, but forwards coach Alex Sanderson has predicted a tough contest.
It’s the fourth meeting of the two sides this season with Saracens winning the two Premiership matches and Sale edging the pool match in the cup competition.
But Sanderson is not expecting those results to mean much with the potential of a cup final at stake.
He said: “It’s going to be tough going up there, especially on the back of them losing to Leicester. It’s been a hard season for them but they’ll put everything, every resource they have, every player available good enough for selection out there on Sunday.”
Sanderson is no stranger to the Sale club after playing for the Sharks before a move to Saracens in 2004, and the Chester born coach predicts that they are improving in what has been, a tough season for the Manchester based club;
“Knowing their coaches and knowing their set-up as I do, and I know although many of the personnel have changed over the years, they are still a very proud club in the manner they perform,” he explained. “You expect them to compete, in every aspect and every phase of the game. Certainly at the breakdown, in defence, and at their set-piece, they have got better as the season’s gone on.”
Throughout the LV=Cup, Saracens have implemented a squad-rotation policy, and Sanderson emphasised the importance of providing some players within the squad an opportunity to impress in the starting XV.
“It’s important for the boys who don’t get the opportunity on a weekly basis to start, to prove that they can fill the boots of some of the senior players within the squad. You look to your Jamie George’s, your Nick Auterac’s and even Petrus du Plessis’ of this world, and that’s just the front-row alone, George Kruis in the second-row, all these guys who want more regular appearances in the first team. It’s a big stage for them to perform.”
Saracens’ have been in impressive form as of late, and the Saracens forwards coach stressed that maintaining that impetus is important for the club;
“It’s important for us as a club to maintain the momentum moving forward, and we have reached this stage in the past and we have not progressed and as a club we are always continue to look to improve. We want to get into the final and win as this is a cup we have never won.
“We’d like to continue the rich vein of form we’ve witnessed in recent weeks in terms of try scoring, but with the nature of these games it’s important that we rely on of some of things that we have done well traditionally as a side, over the last few years. That’s a strong defence, winning the territorial battle, taking the points when they are available and if the opportunities arise to go and run the ball. But that will come on the back of winning the territorial battle, winning the set-piece and being strong in defence.”