Saints prop Waller wants to move on from Ashton bite incident
Alex Waller entered a different sort of scrum to the one he is used to at Franklin's Gardens on Tuesday afternoon.
The front row forward put himself in front of the media, knowing the kind of questions that would be asked.
However, he dealt with inquisitions about the recent game between Saints and Saracens as well as he has dealt with tighthead props during his ascent at the Gardens.
Waller was asked about Chris Ashton’s bite that left marks on his arm.
He was asked about his emotions during a tempestous battle in Barnet.
And he was asked about his sin-binning, which ultimately cost Saints the game, as Saracens scored twice during his time off the field.
Waller was open to questions and though he didn’t want to dwell, particularly on the Ashton incident, he was typically polite and affable.
“Obviously, I let myself down there and let the boys down,” he said of the second-half incident, which saw him lift Saracens hooker Jamie George above the horizontal, leading to a yellow card from referee Greg Garner.
“We’re always going to play on the edge, but you’ve got to keep that discipline and that’s a major thing across the board, one to 15.
“It was disappointing to lose, but we’ve assessed it, looked at where we’ve gone wrong and hopefully we can put that into practice.”
It appeared that things were stacking up against Waller at Allianz Park, with two alleged Ashton bite incidents - one was proven, one was dismissed at the RFU disciplinary hearing - followed by a small scuffle with Richard Wigglesworth.
Things eventually reached boiling point when Waller reacted to George trying to drag him out of a ruck, and that ‘moment of madness’, as it was labelled by Saints boss Jim Mallinder, proved fatal.
So did Waller feel the game against Saracens was more niggly than normal, or was it just a typical contest between clubs who have become fierce rivals over the years?
“It’s one of the big games and there’s always that step up in intensity,” Waller said.
“It’s not necessarily a historic derby, as Leicester and Northampton have had, but you know how our history has developed and there’s been a lot of physical games between us.
“It was a physical game, but it was just a standard Saints-Sarries game.
“Things weren’t necessarily mounting up, it was just one of those games where there was a lot of physicality going on.
“Everyone on both teams was giving 100 per cent, but I let myself down getting that yellow.
“It was marginal, but you’ve got to take your punishment, keep your chin up like a man, take the rap that comes with it and then move on.”
And then the question about that Ashton bite incident.
Tom Wood said last week that Waller’s main frustration was that he had to deal with something that should never have happened.
Waller and Ashton had become friends during the Saracens man’s time at Saints, which made the whole incident more bizarre.
Ashton was banned for 13 weeks for the bite, which saw him react to Waller’s attempts to clear him out at a ruck.
However, the winger pleaded not guilty to two acts contrary to good sportsmanship and came out on Tuesday with a statement released via his club, reiterating that he did not bite the Northampton prop.
So though it is understandable that he is reluctant to discuss it, how does Waller feel about the incident and the fall-out since?
“It was disappointing, but it’s happened now and the right people have dealt with it,” Waller said.
“I’m just looking to move on and I don’t necessarily want to dwell on it.
“I just want to keep playing rugby and what’s happened has happened.
“The authorities and appropriate people have dealt with it.”
And now Waller will look to deal with the challenge of Exeter Chiefs at Franklin’s Gardens on Friday night.