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Waller aims to seize his chance

England and British and Irish Lion prop Alex Corbisiero's influence on Northampton this season has been hailed by the man tasked with filling his considerable void.

Corbisiero is currently battling injury, but still hopes to be part of England's autumn Test campaign which features appointments with Australia, Argentina and New Zealand next month.

The new Saints signing has seen his club position filled by Alex Waller, who shone during last weekend's Heineken Cup victory over the Ospreys and retains his place against unbeaten Aviva Premiership leaders Saracens at Franklin's Gardens on Saturday.

"Corbs was really unlucky to get injured," Waller said.

"He is so good to have around the club, always helping the other lads prepare and aiding in their development.

"You never want to see a player go down injured, and I knew with England (commitments) that I would get my opportunity eventually - it just came a week earlier than I thought it would against the Ospreys.

"I am hoping with these run of games to prove myself at the top level, that I can step up and do a job whenever called upon. I've got my chance now, so I have to take it forward."

Saints are without the likes of Lee Dickson, Dylan Hartley, Courtney Lawes and Tom Wood due to England training commitments, which will also mean Saracens arriving in the east midlands without Chris Ashton, Owen Farrell, Mako Vunipola and Billy Vunipola.

Sale Sharks number eight Mark Easter has a meeting with his older brother - former England forward Nick Easter - at the Twickenham Stoop on Saturday.

Quins have slipped to four successive defeats in all competitions, while they last suffered three home league losses on the bounce during the 2004-05 season, a campaign that ended with the Londoners being relegated.

"They are going to be disappointed with their start to the season, but having watched them last week (against Clermont Auvergne) they have a lot spirit in the team and have a lot of quality players, so it is just a matter of time before it clicks for them," Easter said.

"We are focused on going down there and giving it a good crack.

"We are quite confident at the minute and we are the opposite of them in that we have won a couple on the bounce, but they will be desperate to kick-start their season.

"Quins have been one of the dominant sides in the Premiership, so it will be a tough challenge."

Quins have lost the services of hooker Rob Buchanan, who ruptured a pectoral muscle in the Clermont game and is not expected to play again until the end of January. An injury update on centre George Lowe, meanwhile, is expected next week following specialist's advice.

Exeter host Worcester on Saturday, having made a strong start to their Heineken Cup campaign with victory over Cardiff Blues before collecting a losing bonus point against Glasgow, but Chiefs assistant coach Ali Hepher knows the importance of domestic action.

"We know the Premiership is our bread and butter," Hepher said.

"For us, it's exciting to get back into it and there are good opportunities within the league in that if we put in a couple of good performances over these next few weeks we can really push up the table.

"We don't really look for benchmarks. Instead, we know what we are capable of and recent games have certainly shown that.

"For us to perform like that depends not only on the opposition, but also the conditions on the day, so whatever we are given on Saturday we will take and we will look to adjust our tactics accordingly."

Sunday's Premiership action sees Wasps - winners just once from five league starts this term - hosting Leicester, with the Tigers not having won at Adams Park for six years, while Newcastle host London Irish.


From Belfast Telegraph