With Alex Corbisiero taking a sabbatical from rugby at the end of the season the loosehead prop spot at Northampton Saints has become a family affair, and Ethan Waller has no intention of letting older brother Alex hog the limelight.
The homegrown brothers have established themselves as regulars at Franklin’s Gardens over the last two seasons, with Ethan following in his sibling’s footsteps by featuring every week this season.
Alex became the first player Aviva Premiership Rugby history to appear in 100 consecutive games earlier this term, and the brothers have shared starts for Saints this year.
Now that Corbisiero is to take a break, the burden on the Wallers has only increased, but Ethan, 23, is relishing the chance for greater game time.
“I have been involved in every game this season and got a few starts as well so it’s nice to have the confidence of the coaches,” said Waller.
“At the moment it’s me and my brother at loosehead and there’s always a bit of banter between the two of us.
“We’re both fighting for the starts so we obviously talk about how things are going.
“There are certainly differences between the two of us, he has a lot of experience on me, having broken through a couple of years earlier.
“He’s an athlete and has got some great attributes in his game. But I’m working on what I can do to improve and push him.
“Obviously scrummaging is always really important as a prop and I also want to make sure I can be effective picking and going round the corner.”
The scrum will be a key battleground this week for Saints, who travel to Leicester in the East Midlands derby.
Last weekend the Tigers conceded three penalty tries in defeat to Saracens, a first in Aviva Premiership Rugby.
And as a result Waller is expecting a hugely physical encounter at Welford Road, where Saints have not won since 2007.
“It’s always pretty big when you play Leicester and especially when you’ve grown up in the area,” added Waller.
“With the way things went for them last weekend we know they will have had a big week and will come out firing.
“Leicester obviously had a tough time of it against Saracens with the three penalty tries so they’ll have done a lot of work on the set-piece. We’ve been working hard on scrummaging in training because we know that will be a huge battle so we have to be ready. We’ve not won at Welford Road for a long time now so that is something we need to change, but it’s not something we focus on too much.”
Boxing Day Sale! Click here to grab a bargain with 20% off tickets to the Aviva Premiership Rugby Final on 28 May at Twickenham.