Alex Waller will start for Barbarian F.C. against the World XV this Sunday, and the Northampton Saints prop is relishing every minute of his time with the world-famous invitational side.
Waller had originally aimed to take to the Twickenham turf in a Black, Green and Gold shirt alongside his Saints teammates in the Gallagher Premiership Final; but when Northampton lost out on a Final spot to Saracens, the opportunity to don the infamous Black and White hoops instead was one the prop grabbed with both hands.
The 33-year-old has already made a fair few memories at Twickenham – including scoring the extra-time, match-winning try as Saints claimed their first Premiership title back in 2014 – and now Waller is looking forward to making more as part of a star-studded Barbarians side.
Waller said: “Obviously I was planning to be playing in the [Premiership] Final but things change and I was available to come here and experience this, which I'm very excited about.
“I joined up with the lads on Tuesday and it's definitely living up to the BaaBaas expectations and the way it goes so I'm loving it.
“It's proper old school rugby values and I'm enjoying every minute of it so far.”Alex Waller
“I had a chat with Woody [Tom Wood – who featured for the Barbarians in a memorable match at cinch Stadium at Franklin’s Gardens last year] and he said it was an awesome experience.
“He said it was definitely worth doing so luckily the club let me come and experience this.
“I'm looking forward to getting out there on Sunday.”
While uncapped at senior level, Waller will still be one of the Baabaas’ most-experienced players with 353 appearances in Black, Green and Gold under his belt. And the prop is relishing the opportunity to test himself alongside, and against, some of the world’s best players on Sunday.
“It's an absolute privilege to start there this weekend and I'm just looking forward to getting out there with the boys,” Waller added.
“Hopefully it's not too warm because I'll be sweating and struggling in this heat but it's going to be a good game.
“I've seen the World XVs side and they've got a pretty tidy team so it should be a good game to watch.
“It's always good to play in any big stadium, but especially Twickenham. There's always a little bit of a fond memory going back there but it's time to work and crack on so you have to park that.
“I've got some pretty fond memories down there, some bad ones too, but I try to remember the fond ones.”
Waller started Saints’ Premiership semi-final against Saracens two weeks ago and reflecting on the side’s season – where they reached the Premiership knock-out stages for the second consecutive term – he said: “It was disappointing and obviously I would have preferred to be still in the mix and playing in a final this week.
“But fair play to Sarries, they executed their game plan pretty well and we weren't at the races on the day. We need to regroup, refresh and fly into next season because it soon comes around quick.
“We made some big steps as a squad. It was obviously disappointing not to make it to the big party at the end, but we definitely made some steps in the right direction, especially with a new DOR [Phil Dowson] and coaching setup.
“I thought we didn't do too badly but we obviously fell at the last hurdle so there’s lots to work on for next year.”
General admission tickets for Barbarian F.C. vs World XV are still available from www.ticketmaster.co.uk/barbarians, with ticket prices starting from just £27.50* for adults and £16.95* for Under-16s.