Waller savouring Barbarians experience but thinking about what might have been with Saints

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It isn't the Twickenham occasion Alex Waller would have hoped for this weekend, but it will be special for him nonetheless.

Waller wanted to be lining up for Saints in a Gallagher Premiership final on Saturday, but instead he will be in the Barbarians team to face a World XV on Sunday (kick-off 2pm, live on Channel 5).

"I got a message the week of the semi-final saying 'thanks for accepting the invitation'," Waller explained. "I thought 'great, but I haven't heard anything about it'.

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"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.

Alex Waller will start for the Barbarians this weekendAlex Waller will start for the Barbarians this weekend
Alex Waller will start for the Barbarians this weekend

"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."

Waller's close friend and business partner, Tom Wood, has previously experienced playing for the Barbarians.

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And Waller said: "I speak to Woody about most things but we had a chat 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."

Waller has some magical memories of Twickenham, notably scoring the winning try in extra-time as Saints claimed their first, and so far only, Premiership title back in 2014.

"It's an absolute privilege to start there this weekend and I'm just looking forward to getting out there with the boys," Waller said.

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"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.

"The Big Game fixtures against Quins will be the last time I played at Twickenham and it's awesome to play there.

"It doesn't change how you approach a game because it's just a bigger stadium and crowd but it's a decent surface and I haven't been there for a while so I'll need my memory jogging.

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"It's always good to play down there, and 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 for Saints in their Gallagher Premiership play-off semi-final defeat at Saracens earlier this month.

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And 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."

Waller made 23 appearances for Saints last season, starting 21 of those matches.

And he said: "We made some big steps as a squad.

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"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."

Barbarians: Anscombe; Radwan, Tamanivalu, Kerevi, Li; Cooper, Maunder; Waller, Dolly, Pieretto, AW Jones (captain), Lewies, Wainwright, Yamamoto, Luatua.

Replacements: Thacker, West, Sadie, Simmons, Vailanu, Hougaard, Cruden, Johnson.

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World XV: Piutau; Folau, Radradra, Laumape, Nkosi; Hastings, Phipps; W Jones, Brown, Kebble, Ratuniyarawa, Hockings, Negri, Lamaro (captain), Mata.

Replacements: Dee, Dell, Street, N Cannone, Murphy, Hall, Patchell, Rasaku.