Former Scotland prop Tom Smith is delighted he will be facing one of the most physical challenges in Heineken Cup rugby on Sunday rather than sitting at home watching on TV.
The Northampton front rower has his team’s surprise victory over Biarritz on San Sebastian to thank for not being able to put his feet up this weekend.
The player who won 62 caps for Scotland and played in six Lions Tests will also be up against his old Scotland and Lions coach Ian McGeechan who is now in charge at Wasps.
Despite his glittering career, McGeechan has never taken a team to the final of European rugby’s top club competition and that is something Smith is determined to maintain.
“Certainly it would be nice to keep it that way,” admitted the 35-year-old who joined the Saints in 2001, after McGeechan’s time in charge at Franklins Gardens.
“It is nice to be involved in the semi-finals and not just watching on TV, so now we have got to a stage that most people did not expect us to get to then suddenly we are thinking it would be nice to reach the final now.”
Northampton’s victory over previously unbeaten Biarritz was one of the shocks of the tournament because the two teams had come out of the same pool with the French club winning both contests between the sides.
“Obviously not many people expected that from us, it was a nice weekend in San Sebastian but we do not want that to be our lasting legacy from the tournament,” said Smith.
“It is really special being here. I do not know if the longer you have been playing for the more you appreciate these things. It takes a lot of work to get here, so it is massive for me and us.”
Northampton have plenty of star players such as Smith, fellow Scot Sean Lamont and Kiwi pair Bruce Reihana and Carlos Spencer, however Smith says it is not up to the star names on their own to try to win the game on Sunday in Coventry’s Ricoh Arena.
“It is not just the big names that will deliver, it is getting 15 guys who know what they want to do and want to do it together with shared objectives. We are getting to that stage and just need to get a few things to click and who knows what can happen,” he added.
“We are certainly confident. We know it is a big job but if we get our jobs right and our heads on when we go down there this weekend I am confident we can take on anyone, so we are looking forward to it.