Luke Wallace admits he has had an eye on the final fixture of the 2019/20 campaign, since returning to Premiership Rugby over the summer after a short stint in the Championship with Coventry Rugby.
After a decade with Harlequins, the back-rower was let go by the London club and headed to central England over a year ago for the beginning of what is still the current season.
I think playing against people you know, people you played with for so long gives that extra competitive edgeLuke Wallace
However, while COVID-19 presented issues for many rugby players across the country, it offered up an opportunity for Wallace to return to the top flight with Tigers.
And, since debuting in the opening weekend of resumed fixtures away to Exeter in Round 14, Wallace has quickly reminded many why he is better suited in the Premiership.
The 30-year-old starts at blindside flanker in Sunday’s game at Welford Road and, speaking ahead of the showdown with former team-mates, Wallace says he’s “looking forward” to the fixture.
“It has been something I have been looking forward to,” admits the former ‘Quins flanker, before adding: “When I joined here, I checked whether or not we still had a game against ‘Quins to come this season.”
“The team has changed but still half of the squad are good friends of mine, who have been there a long time.”
Wallace is of the opinion it adds an “extra edge” to come up against former colleagues and friends, as well as a personal point to prove to management that bid you a farewell.
“I think playing against people you know, people you played with for so long gives that extra competitive edge,” he says, with wry smile.
“And also there is a desire to play well against a management that let you go.”
When asked if he had pestered Rob Taylor, the club’s attack coach, for a set play that included him on the end of a move to score, he quipped: “No, it’s not about me.”
Before going on to add: “I’d like to get some turnovers to be fair, that would be nice.”
And, while it’s a nice storyline ahead of the game, he also admits it is long gone from your mind once you cross the touchline ahead of kick-off.
“Once you are out there, every game is the same … it’s more about the build-up,” says the now proud Tiger.
While looking back, ahead of reuniting with former team mates, Wallace also makes a point of saying his heart is now in seeing Tigers back to winning ways.
The current season may be coming to a close, which he acknowledges has not been up to standard, but the summer-signing says the foundations are being put in place and a “result” on Saturday is another step forward for Leicester.
“I feel that we are happy with the way stuff is going, in terms of game plans and progress we are making in terms of the way we are playing,” says Wallace.
“But, look, it’s time we got some wins and results … we aren’t happy we haven’t had them, that’s pretty clear.
“So, now, we need a result on Sunday at Welford Road for us, for the club, for the fans.”