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Armand: Exeter Chiefs young guns are on fire

Exeter Chiefs’ academy is the gift that keeps on giving and Don Armand has singled out a pair of Sams who can help vault the club to back-to-back titles.

Sam Skinner, a member of England Under-20s, has notched two tries from No.8 in the LV= Cup so far while Sam Simmonds has been a destructive influence on the openside.

And fellow back-row Armand is enjoying life in such exciting company, as they bid to take their place in the Franklin’s Gardens final a week on Sunday.

“Sam Skinner is definitely one to look out for,” he said. “He leads so well from the back-row and is mature beyond his years.

“There’s also Sam Simmonds at seven and though he’s not got the game time in the Premiership, the last game he played in the LV= Cup I think he topped the stats in every single category.

“The wonderful thing about the competition is the way it bloods youngsters into the first team and these guys are proving they’re ready for more.”

Last year’s LV= Cup final victory at Sandy Park will forever be a landmark moment in Chiefs’ history, their first-ever piece of silverware with the promise of more to come.

But Armand admits the road to success this time is more treacherous – they face a Leicester Tigers side at Welford Road who racked up 18 points from a possible 20 during the group stages.

“The trophy was amazing, it was my first year at the Chiefs and you don’t realise the full extent at what the club has been through, coming up from the Championship,” he added. “It really hit home.

“It was a great stepping stone to put us into the market as one of the league’s top clubs but also the guys now have the experience of winning those types of pressure games.

“There’s no doubt it would be an even bigger achievement this year and to beat the form team in Leicester Tigers at Welford Road would be huge.”

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