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Waller enjoying life with next generation of Saints

It may have been a disappointing result for the men in Black, Gold and Green on Sunday afternoon, but experienced prop Alex Waller could see plenty of silver linings from Northampton Saints’ trip to Ealing Trailfinders.

Will Glister was one of seven debutants in Black, Green and Gold, and the 18-year-old crossed the whitewash twice before being denied a sensational hat-trick due to a TMO intervention.

Moreover, Craig Wright, Ewan Baker, Elliot Millar Mills and Matthew Arden (as well as short-term loanees Izaiha Moore-Aiono and Theo Vukasinovic) also played their first competitive games for the Club in the Premiership Rugby Cup defeat.

Waller began his Saints’ career in the same competition (then the Anglo Welsh Cup) in November 2009, coming on as a substitute away at Ospreys. Now, having played more than 350 games for the Club, he hopes some of that experience can be shared to the younger players.

“I love playing and getting out there with these young lads, and if I can impart a little bit of experience throughout these games then happy days,” he said.

“If you look at the likes of Craig Wright in the front row – who made his debut but unfortunately had to go off with a head knock – he’s a brilliant young talent coming through.

“These games will be really good for him to play against this standard of opposition. Ealing aspire to come into the Premiership and show they can mix it with the Premiership teams.

“So, it’s good experience and learning opportunity for the young lads, but obviously disappointing to get the loss on their debut.”

Phil Dowson’s side’s first trip to Trailfinders Sports Ground ended with a 48-22 defeat and Waller knows there’s work to be done.

“We’re disappointed,” he added. “It’s still early in the season and we’ve still got a lot to work on. We need to highlight some areas and we’ve got to start better to be honest.

“We never like to lose, but there is plenty to work on and we have another four games in the Premiership Rugby Cup to do that before we get to Sale Sharks in the Premiership.”

Alex Waller

“If you look at the squad, it’s still a very young group with a lot of boys making their competitive debut for the Club.

“This will be great experience for them but unfortunately, you’ve got to go through it.

“I’ve been through this a few times as well but there’s plenty to work on. We never want to lose, and we’ll go into next week against Cambridge and then onto the next one after that.”

Waller has been involved in competitive action earlier than he might have imagined this term, with a number of injuries at loosehead prop seeing the 33-year-old drafted in to play alongside the young guns.

But with the likes of Emmanuel Iyogun, Tarek Haffar, and Ethan Waller all hopefully off the treatment table over the coming weeks, Waller admits he will be pleased when more of his teammates are able to share the workload.

He said: “I’ve been in Manny’s shoes before with that injury, and we’ve also got a few others out at the moment as well.

“That’s the nature of the beast sometimes. We’ve got great quality in our looseheads and when everyone’s fit, we’ll be in a great position, but at the moment it’s me and Elliot Millar Mills on our own. I love playing, and hopefully I can make some more contributions to a decent Cup run from here.”

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