Saints ‘pumped’ for opening clash against European champions Saracens

Action from Saints' win over Ulster on Friday night (Pictures: Kirsty Edmonds)
Action from Saints' win over Ulster on Friday night (Pictures: Kirsty Edmonds)

Alex Waller says the Saints are ‘pumped’ ahead of their Aviva Premiership opener against European champions Saracens at Twickenham on Saturday.

Jim Mallinder’s men completed a winning pre-season on Friday night when they raced to a 55-15 win over Ulster at Franklin’s Gardens.

That made it four wins out of four, and means the squad is in good shape as they prepare for the first competitive match of the campaign, and they don’t come much bigger or tougher than Saracens at HQ as part of the traditional season-opening London double header .

“What an opener, and everyone’s pumped,” said Waller. “Sarries at Twickers, it doesn’t get much bigger than that.

“There’s still a lot of things to work on and we were by no means perfect on Friday, but we’re ready to go flying into that game next week and start the season well. It’s a big couple of weeks.”

Saints follow up their trip to Twickenham with an equally tough first home game when they entertain bitter local rivals Leicester Tigers at the Gardens.

It is a difficult start, but Waller feels the pre-season campaign, that has seen the team secure wins over Dragons, Nottingham, Glasgow and Ulster means they ‘are in a good place’.

“You can’t read too much into results because oppositions have mixed their teams, a lot like we have, but it’s positive because we obviously want to win everything we play in,” Waller told northamptonsaints.com

“Physically, we feel in great shape and that’s credit to the shift put in by the strength and conditioning team.

“Also, pre-season was rugby from day one along with the fitness and I think that has showed. We feel like we’re in a good place.”

The scoreline suggests Friday’s match was a walk in the park for Saints, but that was far from the case as the score was just 15-8 in Saints’ favour as late as the 58th minute.

A flurry of late scores ensured an emphatic finish, but Waller felt it was an excellent test for him and his team-mates.

“Fair play to Ulster, they put up a tough fight in that first 60 minutes,” said the prop.

“They came with a big pack and it was a good workout for us ahead of the big game next week.

“There were positives in the last 20 minutes as well - we were able to go through our phases in attack and the lads that came on did a great job to remain composed and professional rather than going too loose.”