“You always have an interest, especially those like Denny”

Sales manager Alex Sanderson will be on Saturday morning as the club’s ex-winger Denny Solomona will succeed with the Highlanders in the quarterfinals of the Super Rugby Pacific away to the Blues at Eden Park. The first England election made its debut on April 1 at the Crusaders and having been named to the 23rd man for the knockout game in Auckland, he is ready for a sixth appearance for his new team after his surprise departure from Manchester last November.

Solomon left the Gallagher Premiership club without having a team lined up to join New Zealand but after making the trip home, he was later taken by the Dunedin-based franchise and fulfilled his gamble of departure. For sale don’t wait.

“Of course I’m interested,” Sale Chief Sanderson told RugbyPass asked about Solomon’s progress on the other side of the world. “Generally four or five people leave clubs every year, so you get used not to the turnstile, but certainly to the flow of players coming in and out.

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“But you always have an interest, especially those like Denny, which was a little surprising but we thought it was the right thing for him to go on and get what he wanted. It [him doing well at the Highlanders] strengthens your decision and the conversations you have had.

“I even wove Will Skelton I didn’t train him for years on Saturday night, ”he added of another old player who was celebrating last weekend. Heineken Champions Cup success with La Rochelle.

The couple worked together at Saracens and took part in European success in 2019 before both went their separate ways, Skelton al France play and Sanderson to Manchester to take over at Sale after years of assistant coaching. “Closed with him. Last time we went to La Rochelle he showed up with a few bottles of wine with his girlfriend, so that’s the best thing about work for me, the relationships that last after your time with the boys. ”

It was early December when Sanderson first spoke to RugbyPass about his mixed feelings that Solomona came out just months after what the rugby director described as one of his proudest moments since he became Sale boss in January 2021.

Sanderson and his staff worked hard to get Solomona back into the first-team mix following his latest mental health issuesa return wish that was fulfilled in September when the 28-year-old left the bench at London Irish to make its first appearance since February. The coach described it as one of his proudest moments with the Sharks.

However, November discussions on contract addition quickly ended Solomona is released early from her existing agreement to return home to New Zealanda turn of events that surprised Sale boss as Solomona went on to make six Sale appearances following his September return to the team.

“I’m glad for him because I think this might be what he needs for his overall happiness,” Sanderson said at the time. “We tried everything we could, but he probably didn’t get it here and I’ve always said that you have to be at least content in all parts of your life to get the best out of you in the field. The best players are the ones who have everything tidy and flowing. Denny didn’t have those things.

“Look, I may have failed, but I tried, we tried with professionals, everything we could to get him to the right place and try anyway, it was still too far for him. I thought we were there and we were in parts, but it was a bit of a struggle.

“It all sounds negative but it’s not negative if he went to a better place and he and his family are happy. That way I can justify my efforts and not feel like I’m failing him. I don’t think I let him down. We helped him get to a place where he was miles better than he was when I showed up. ”

Solomona originally joined Castleford’s Sale of rugby 16 in 2016 and his Prime Minister’s Cup start at Leicester November 13 was his final match for the club when it was announced 13 days later that the five-cap England winger had gone home to New Zealand for personal reasons and would continue his playing career there.


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