Despite still being only 23, Alex has featured in each of the last 76 Saints games, a run stretching back to the 2011 Heineken Cup final and one which has increased his tally of first team appearances to 97. Ethan meanwhile made the first of his six appearances last season when he was just 21 and West can’t wait to see how they both fair against one of Europe’s top front rows.
“It’s always disappointing when you lose a player injured, but we’re lucky that we’ve got two good replacements in the Waller boys,” he told the Saints Podcast. “I’m excited in a way to see those lads get another chance. They’ve got a lot of respect among the other lads here, play well week in week out and train well. They’re gaining in experience every week and I’m looking forward to seeing them.
“Alex has probably not started as many games as he would have liked but we said that Corbisiero coming here as an international player would be something that would open up a lot more opportunities for him to play.
“I think he’s ready for that and I’m really hoping that we see a good performance from him this weekend.”
Having faced off against a pack littered with internationals last week in Castres, the Saints could go head-to-head with as many as five British Lions in the Ospreys pack on Sunday. While it will prove a sizeable task, West added that it is something you have to get used to at the top level.
“The Heineken is a difficult competition to play in, much like the English Premiership,” he said. “You don’t come across many bad packs and we’re tested week in week out. We’re not too familiar with Ospreys having only played them in LV= Cup games in recent years but you see a lot of their squad playing international rugby and a lot of our squad will have come up against them.
“We’re expecting a big challenge and we know they’ll come here fired up. If they play well they can certainly cause us problems but on the flipside to that, we know that if we’re at our best we’re a match for anybody.”
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