Sharks boss for sale alex sanderson He says he is “very proud” of being Gallagher Premier League The finalists wave the rugby union flag in the north of England.

And Sanderson believes the sold-out AJ Bell Stadium should be seen as just the beginning of their journey, providing a soundtrack that inspired Sale’s thrilling playoff victory over Leicester.

Game for sale within 27 miles of five Super League clubs – SalfordLeigh, St Helens, Warrington and Wigan – Old Trafford is just four miles down the road and Manchester City’s Etihad Stadium is just five more miles away.

It represents a tight sports chart, but Sale has firmly positioned themselves on the map by reaching their first Premiership final in 17 years. Saracens waiting for them Twickenham on 27 May

“My job is to make sure the players[players]perform and play well over the weekend – that’s my top priority – but there are a lot of different hats to wear,” Sanderson said.

“And I’m proud of the fact that potentially expanding our reach in the north.

“There are bigger crowds coming in and the buzz is better. It’s busier, it’s a ‘Brucie bonus.’ It’s a humble addition to the role when you inspire a kid to get the ball off the ground.

“I remember The North played in New Zealand when I was a kid. You know what I mean? We’re flying the flag right now and yes, I’m very proud of that.

“I can’t talk too much about it because I’m starting to cry and get very emotional.

“Coming home to this team—the team I played and captained, the one my brother played against, the one my father played against—is a bit of a dream.

“It feels like the beginning. I’m cool, but I’ll think about the future in two weeks. Until then, we have work to do.”

George Ford, who played for Leicester when they beat the Saracens in the final a year ago, echoes Sanderson’s view of building a northern fort.

Born in Oldham, Ford has won more than 80 England games playing on many of the sport’s biggest stages, and Sale’s future, both on and off the pitch, excites him.

Ford said: “We always talk about it as one of the reasons we make people here proud and interested in rugby union.

It’s obviously tough in terms of football and rugby league, but we do our best to impress these little kids.

George Ford

“It’s about going out and supporting us, but more importantly the kids come and get a rugby ball and start playing here.

“It’s obviously challenging in football and rugby league but we do our best to impress these little kids.

“As we all know, rugby union here has its challenges. All we can do as a club is perform well, win games, fill the place and entertain these people, give them a winning team that cares and competes.

“We want to inspire children as well. The number of children you see there with smiles on their faces – after all, that’s what it’s all about.

“When we finish the game and are out of the game for a long time, they are the people who will come and move the game forward.

“If we can encourage the kids – the northern boys playing for Sale – to come here and play, that’s what we want.”