Saints' vibe is similar to during double-winning season

Alex Waller believes the 'vibe' Saints are starting to build is reminiscent of the double-winning season of 2013/14.

By Tom Vickers
Wednesday, 15th May 2019, 8:00 am
Alex Waller lifted the Premiership Rugby Cup at Franklin's Gardens in March
Alex Waller lifted the Premiership Rugby Cup at Franklin's Gardens in March

The black, green and gold have been in fine form during recent weeks, winning three successive away league matches.

That has helped to propel them into the Gallagher Premiership top four ahead of the final-day fixture at Exeter Chiefs on Saturday.

And Waller feels the current squad depth and confidence is similar to when Saints won the Premiership and European Challenge Cup five years ago.

"We've got two or three blokes champing at the bit who want to play and that makes the bloke starting work harder," said Waller, who scored the winning try in extra-time against Saracens in the 2014 Premiership final at Twickenham.

"It's reminiscent of the 2013/14 season, a similar vibe starting to build where we've got a lot of young, hungry talent and also some experience to guide the ship.

"I'm really excited about where this club can go in the near future and next season."

Waller has enjoyed a friendly rivalry with South African loosehead prop Francois van Wyk this season.

And the Kettering-born front row forward said: "I started the season pretty well but then I took a dip in form.

"Francois took his opportunity and he's been playing really well, which is great to see.

"People always look for friction in competition and they want to play on that but me and Francois work very well together. We spend some time together off the pitch and he's a great bloke.

"I'm really pleased for him in how he's come on this season, he's really stepped his game up, which is good for me.

"It drives the competition and we've got that all throughout the squad."

Waller has been part of the best and worst times for Saints over recent years.

But he is delighted with how things have progressed since boss Chris Boyd arrived from the Hurricanes last summer.

"It was a bit of a stinker (during difficult recent seasons) and it wasn't through lack of effort or trying - it just needed a freshen up, and that's not a criticism of anyone who's been and gone," Waller said. "It's just the way the professional game works.

"Things can get a bit stale but we've been freshened up and credit to Boydy and all the coaching staff who have all brought their own aspects to the club.

"I'm really excited and that shows in the fans because there's a bit of energy starting to build and some confidence.

"On our day, I don't reckon anyone could beat us."

Saints have already won one trophy under Boyd, picking up the Premiership Rugby Cup in March.

And Waller, who lifted the silverware at Franklin's Gardens as club co-captain, said: "It's always good to lift trophies. They come few and far between in this game, unless you're Sarries.

"We worked hard for that and you saw some young lads coming through to get us to that final.

"It's great to see the coaches had the confidence and faith in them to do a job.

"It was great to lead the boys out and lift that silverware.

"There's a direct correlation between winning that and going on to win the Prem in the next couple of years so hopefully we can back up the evidence for that."

Saints now face a huge hurdle in their bid to stay on course for a second Premiership title as they travel to table-topping Exeter Chiefs this Saturday.

If Boyd's men win, they will definitely be playing in the play-off semi-finals seven days later.

But Waller, who has 261 Saints appearances to his name, said: "I've played down there a load of times and it's a tough place to go and play.

"The fans are really passionate and loud.

"The weather can play a part in that the wind rips right down the pitch so it can be really difficult going one way.

"It's a tough place to play but also a great place.

"Exeter are playing good rugby. They had a stumble against Saracens a couple of weeks ago but I'm fully expecting a big game from them to get momentum back. That's what I'd be saying if I was them."