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Bath has suffered a litany of injuries in the early goings of the Aviva Premiership and Heineken Cup seasons, which has made room for the former Cal Bear to potentially play as soon as Friday against Worcester.
“To be honest, I’ve kind of had a goal of doing this for a long time coming,” Biller told RUGBYMag.com, “and being able to mix it up with my teammates on the Eagles who also play in the Premiership, knowing I feel I’m capable of competing over there, it was just a matter of getting an opportunity, and now it’s here and now it’s my turn to step up and make a name for myself.”
Fellow Eagle John Van Der Giessen spent some time with Bath under similar circumstances last season. Before Biller could reach out to his friend to share the news, VDG popped up on his phone as an incoming call.
“Ironically, he just gave me a call out of the blue when I was heading to the airport, and I was going to call him when I was passing through security, but he beat me to it, because we’ll chat once a month just to catch up,” said Biller.
“I said, ‘Well John, what do you think I’m doing right now?’ He’s like, ‘You’re probably not doing anything,’ and I said ‘Well, I’m heading to Bath to play just like you did.’ He was pretty happy for me, and he actually wrote me a long e-mail on what to expect and what will make my life easier when I head over there.”
Biller, like every American who goes overseas to supplant an injured player, is hoping to extend his stay longer than originally planned. When he heard Bath was interested in him, he called Tom Billups, who coached him at Cal, for some advice on how to achieve that goal.
“I told him the opportunity that was at stake, and he just laid it out pretty simply. He said, 'The way you’re going to succeed over there is it’s just going to matter how much you want it, and how willing you are to compete every day,’” said Biller. “It’s simple, but it’s not easy, so I’m just going to have to go over there and earn my keep, and just have to work hard and prove to them I can play.”
Biller will be arriving in England after consecutive redeye flights and will be expected to jump almost immediately into the fray. The lack of sleep, he anticipates, won’t keep him from being a wide-eyed sponge as he tries to digest Bath’s lineout and pattern straight away.
“I’m pretty sure once I get around the team I’m going to be pretty excited. In a sense, it’s a dream come true, so I’m not really too worried about the sleep factor. I’m sure I can work through it.”
Biller’s first chance to play against an Eagle teammate comes Christmas Eve, when Bath takes on Samu Manoa and Northampton. Manoa and Biller are also San Francisco Golden Gate teammates.