Waller and Co aiming to make it a happy anniversary for Saints

Alex Waller represented Saints at the Champions Cup launch
Alex Waller represented Saints at the Champions Cup launch

Northampton Saints is a club that prides itself on its proud history.

And that has not been lost on the players ahead of their return to the big stage this week.

Next year will be the 20th anniversary of the club's Heineken Cup triumph at Twickenham.

And how desperate the current crop at Franklin's Gardens are to go all the way, just as their predecessors did.

"We're looking forward to being back in the Champions Cup," said Saints co-captain Alex Waller.

"It's been a long time coming for us as a club and we want to get back to playing in the top flight with the big boys.

"We're looking forward to challenging ourselves.

"It's been almost 20 years since we won it so there's a big emphasis around that at the club at the moment.

"For us to be back in it is iconic and we're looking forward to a similar run of performances that we've produced in the Premiership."

If Saints are to make it to next year's final in Marseille, they will have to overcome some huge hurdles.

The first of those comes this afternoon as Top 14 table-toppers Lyon come to Franklin's Gardens.

The French giants couldn't be in much better shape, having won eight of their nine league games this season.

They sit in an extremely healthy position, five points clear at the top and 14 points ahead of third.

And Waller knows exactly what to expect from this weekend's visitors.

"It's a stereotypical French team with a big pack so we expect a very physical game," the prop said.

"They're obviously on a really good run of form, as are we, so it's going to be a big, physical clash, especially at Franklin's Gardens."