Prop Alex sad to see sibling Ethan exiting Saints

Ethan Waller and Alex Waller
Ethan Waller and Alex Waller

Not so long ago, it seemed like the Saints No.1 shirt would be emblazoned with the Waller name for many years to come.

Alex Waller continues to hold onto it, but his brother, Ethan, had been pushing him all the way.

In fact, during Ethan’s emergence from the Saints Academy, there were some who felt he would eventually usurp his sibling.

But with Alex so consistent - he currently holds the record for most consecutive Aviva Premiership games, sitting on 132 going into this weekend’s game at Newcastle Falcons - Ethan has found first-team starts limited.

And, consequently, the 24-year-old has made a courageous decision.

He has opted to swap all he has ever known for a switch to Worcester Warriors from the start of next season.

The move is made even more brave by the fact that the prop can’t be certain which division the Warriors will be playing in next season.

They are currently one place off the bottom of the Premiership, five points ahead of Bristol after securing a stunning 24-18 win against Saracens on Saturday.

And Ethan will hope that result is a springboard for further successes in the final eight games of the regular season.

But for Alex, there is a sense of sadness that he will no longer be in the same squad as his brother when the campaign concludes in May.

“I will be sad to see him go,” said Alex, who has made 206 appearances for Saints.

“It’s been 24 years and I’ve probably not been away from him for more than two or three weeks at a time.

“We went to school together, grew up together and now we work together so it will a change not seeing him as much.

“But everyone’s got to do what they’ve got to do.

“It’s the business we’re in and people move on.”

Ethan’s move will be aided by the fact that he knows a few members of the current squad at Sixways.

Worcester Warriors could almost be renamed Worcester Wanderers with the amount of former Saints players they possess.

Phil Dowson, GJ van Velze, Ryan Lamb and Matti Williams are all currently plying their trade at Worcester.

And Alex said: “There’s a few familiar faces so I’m sure he’ll settle in fine.

“He’s quite a sociable chap so I’m sure he’ll find plenty to do with his time.”

Prior to last Friday’s defeat at Bath, which Alex started, Ethan had managed to make three successive appearances in the first 15.

He caught the eye in the defeat to Montpellier, with one big charge and clever offload helping to set up a try for Lee Dickson.

And Alex has been impressed with how his brother has been performing.

“He’s done really well,” the 27-year-old said.

“I’m very proud of him and he always does well when he comes in.

“He’s a good, skilful player so there are no doubts when he comes in. I know he’ll do a good job.”

The Waller brothers will now set their sights on helping Saints to end the season in style.

Jim Mallinder’s men staged a superb comeback at Bath last Friday only to see victory snatched away from them with the final kick of the game.

Rhys Priestland’s penalty helped the home side recover from 30-29 behind at The Rec, pushing Bath nine points clear of Saints in the battle to make the top four.

The green, black and gold are seventh going into Sunday’s game against eighth-placed Newcastle Falcons at Kingston Park.

And Alex knows just how crucial the next few weeks, which also include a home game against Worcester and a trip to Sale, will be for Saints.

“The next few weeks are huge for us,” he said.

“We’re out of the Anglo-Welsh Cup so we’ll have a two-week break in March to regather, so we’re focusing on these next three weeks now.”