Andrew Sheridan, the freakishly strong loose-head prop who said very little during England's unexpected march to the World Cup final but achieved infinitely more than most, has signed a new three-year contract with Sale, the 2006 Premiership champions who are slowly piecing themselves back together after an injury-ravaged season last time out. The club are so desperate to retain Sheridan's services that an option for a fourth year has been built into the deal.
"I'm very happy at the club and living in the north-west," said the 28-year-old front-rower, who has established himself as the hot favourite to anchor the British and Irish Lions' set-piece in South Africa in 19 months' time.
"I have a lot of respect for Philippe Saint-Andre and Kingsley Jones [the director of rugby and coach at Edgeley Park] and while it was flattering to know that other clubs were keen to talk to me, I didn't want to go anywhere else."
Saint-Andre wants to establish Sale as one of the powerhouses of the English club game. He has recruited some outstanding talent of late – Luke McAlister, the brilliant All Black midfielder, and Rory Lamont, the Scotland full-back, are useful signings in anyone's language – and by securing the services of the most potent prop in world rugby until the next global gathering in 2011, he has made a further statement of intent.