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Sale Sharks: Alex Sanderson hopes Waisea Nayacalevu can fill Manu Tuilagi 'void'

Sale Sharks and England centre Manu Tuilagi
Manu Tuilagi has played 40 times for Sale since he joined from Leicester in 2020

Sale Sharks director of rugby Alex Sanderson hopes the arrival of Waisea Nayacalevu will make up for the "void" created by Manu Tuilagi's imminent departure.

England centre Tuilagi, 32, will move to French club Bayonne this summer after four years at Sale.

But that will be offset by Fiji captain Nayacalevu, 33, joining from Toulon.

"There's a big void to fill, but I'm hoping Waisea will [fill it]," Sanderson told BBC Radio Manchester.

"But he's some player. He's a creator, he puts dents in defences, has brilliant offloading ability and his modus operandi is positive energy and good vibes.

"You saw how he was able to inspire his team emotionally and through his actions in the World Cup, and we're excited to have him on board."

'Salary cap is jigsaw puzzle'

Tuilagi will head to the south of France once the Premiership season has finished.

Sanderson says keeping him in England was unrealistic, as he tries to balance his Sharks squad while working to the salary cap.

"The truth is we now have two centres whereas before we had one.

"That gives us the strength in depth we need whilst also keeping the pathway open for someone like Rekeiti Ma'asi-White, who is a great talent.

"None of that would have been possible without us coming to that understanding with Manu.

"Now you start to realise the jigsaw puzzle that is the salary cap."

Sale return to Premiership action on Sunday when they travel to Bath (15:00 GMT).

They sit seventh in the table after losing their last three games before the Six Nations break, and have a lot of work to do to make the play-offs.

"We've had a good chance to reassess, rebuild and refresh and get nine lads back from injury to add to those lads who have gained in confidence and experience over the Christmas period," Sanderson said.

"But it's all about our attitude. If we get our attitude right and maintain some emotional consistency, we're dangerous enough and capable enough to have a real go at the run-in."