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St Helens coach grateful to Man Utd, Liverpool

St Helens Rugby League coach Daniel Anderson will raise a glass to Sir Alex Ferguson and Rafa Benitez should his side claim a second successive grand slam.

Since Super League was formed in 1996, no club has managed to win the League Leaders' Shield, Challenge Cup and the Grand Final for two years running.

Saints, who also became World Club champions for good measure back in February, will be 80 minutes away from achieving that historic feat if they beat Leeds in Friday's play-off semi-final.

His meticulous approach has seen him delve deep into the secrets of Manchester United and Liverpool's success in a bid to keep Saints on top of the pile.

Anderson said: "I went to Carrington during the summer to see how Manchester United operate and I've been to Liverpool's academy in Kirkby and their training ground at Melwood.

"I've looked at Bolton and Everton as well, plus rugby union clubs such as Northampton and Clermont Auvergne in France.

"Football clubs are particularly receptive and we've got some of the world's biggest and best on our doorstep, so it's not too hard to search for best practice.

"I've met some great people and learned something new from every one of them. I'd like to look at cricket next."

Former Manchester United academy director Les Kershaw, who played a key role in the Red Devils' hugely successful youth system, invited Anderson and his backroom team to Carrington.

Anderson explained: "Les is a great fan of rugby league and we met him at Carrington shortly before United's pre- season tour of the Far East.

"I spoke to Sir Alex about training schedules and he gave me an invaluable insight into what Manchester United do in their off-season.

"It was a private discussion but it was interesting enough for me to have a serious look at what we do in our own off-season.

"Last year, in 2006, I had a similar chat with Rafa Benitez about in-season training programmes and the various rehabilitation and recovery practices that Liverpool employ.

"We weren't too far from their protocols and it just reinforced that we're doing the right thing.

"One thing I saw at United was a treadmill in a pool, which allows players with lower leg injuries to be buoyant in water and still run.

"That was a phenomenal piece of equipment, so if I can go into any environment and see something that I've never seen before then it makes it worth it straight away."

Further evidence of Anderson's desire to forge links with football bosses came when Benitez attended a recent St Helens match at Knowsley Road.

"I sent invites out to a lot of the local coaches, including Sir Alex, Rafa and David Moyes," revealed Anderson.

"I also know Sammy Lee pretty well so by getting to know these guys you pick up things that you can put to use in your own club."

About the author

Tribal Football Staff

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