Tom Whiteley is relishing the opportunity to make his first start in the Gallagher Premiership this weekend when Saracens visit Bristol Bears.

The 23-year-old scrum half, who signed a professional contract with Saracens in 2014 after impressing at Rosslyn Park Sevens, has starred in the Premiership Rugby Cup this season and has featured in both the league and Europe as a replacement.

Pinpointed as one to watch for the future, Whiteley could not contain his excitement about getting his chance to start at number nine for Saracens at Ashton Gate on Saturday.

“Since I joined the club it’s always been a dream of mine,” Whiteley told the Saracens website.

“For it to finally happen in what will be a great game at Ashton Gate is something I’m massively looking forward to and I can’t wait to get out there.”

Second-placed Saracens are separated from Bristol in ninth by 30 points, but Whiteley knows not to underestimate his opponents – especially when they are in a battle against the drop. 

“Bristol have a great running back three, so I’ve got to make sure my kicks are on the money because if not they get the chance to run back at us,” added the scrum-half.

“They’re fighting for their lives and we are in a way as we’re fighting for that home semi-final so either way it’s going to be a massive game. Both teams will be going at it so it’s going to be an exciting game.”

In November, Whiteley was shortlisted for this season’s Premiership Rugby Cup Breakthrough Player award for his strong showings in the tournament, including a try in the semi-final win over Worcester.

And the youngster knows how crucial these performances were in earning the call up to Saracens’ starting XV.

“I’ve been doing well enough this year for the coaches to give me a chance,” he added.

“I make sure my skills are always up to standard whether that’s in training or post-training by doing my extras and making sure I’m always ready to play. 

"For me, that’s the most important thing because you never know when your chance may come.”