Saints prop Waller can't wait for his 26th derby day

Alex WallerAlex Waller
Alex Waller
Alex Waller knows a thing or two about derby days.

After all, he has been reliably informed that this will be his 26th!

The long-serving Saints prop has been locking horns with Leicester Tigers since 2011, having made his debut for the black, green and gold two seasons earlier.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

And he says this Saturday's Gallagher Premiership meeting at Mattioli Woods Welford Road is just as special as any other.

"I'm looking forward to it," said Waller, who has racked up a total of 344 appearances for Saints, scoring the winning try when they beat Saracens in the Premiership final of 2014.

"Dows (Saints boss Phil Dowson) told me this is my 26th derby so I've been involved in a fair few now, and each one is just as exciting as the last one.

"It's a massive challenge and one the lads are relishing.

"I've won a fair few and we've got to match their physicality up front first and foremost.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

"We know it's going to be abrasive and there will be a certain edge so the emotion will take care of itself.

"It's just about focusing on our process and being able to put our game onto the pitch."

Sixth-placed Saints are currently level on points with seventh-placed Leicester in the league standings.

And Waller said: "We're also two points off third and then there's a three-point gap to ninth so it makes it a pretty interesting spectacle for the fans.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

"A win puts you right back in contention for the top four, and a loss takes you the other way.

"It's tense and it's stressful but it's exciting and hopefully we can get the win at the weekend and climb back up the table."

Waller was able to take last weekend off as Saints opted to rest their props for the 31-13 defeat to La Rochelle.

And the 32-year-old said: "I'm feeling good.

"We've got a pretty strong stable of looseheads here at the Gardens.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

"Manny (Iyogun) obviously took a knock but he'll be back stronger, I'm sure.

"We are able to rotate now.

"I've obviously played a few minutes and last weekend looked like a game where Beef (Ethan Waller) and Hobbsy (Danny Hobbs-Awoyemi) could do a job and I could have a little bit of a rest.

"I trained all week but not playing a game just gives you a bit of a refresh and I've been flying into this week.

"It's good for us to have Hobbsy back and you saw what he brings to the table because he was flying around when he came on.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

"It's good that we've got that ability to rotate. In years gone by, that wasn't the case, but now we can approach it with a more sensible approach and give lads rest when they need it."

Waller has spent most of the season competing with talented youngster Iyogun for starts.

But that won't be the case for the foreseeable future as Iyogun suffered an Achllles injury in the defeat at Exeter Chiefs earlier this month.

"It's an injury that I've been through," Waller said.

"He's had surgery and the first two weeks you're feet up so he's not been in the club at all.

"I dropped him a text but we'll catch up when he comes back in the club and starts the rehab side of things.

"I'll offer him any advice I can in that aspect."