TOP BAR - Fixtures

Chiefs Team News for Scarlets Clash

Rob Baxter has warned his Exeter Chiefs squad they can ill afford to ease into the new 2016/17 season as opportunities to impress could well be scarce.

The Devon kick-off the first of three pre-season games tomorrow at home to the Scarlets (3pm) and Baxter is looking to give a large nucleus of his troops the chance to impress.

Although many of the club’s clutch of international names will sit out this first run-out after returning to pre-season training later than their team-mates, Baxter is still able to parade two powerful line-ups for the visit of the Welsh region to Sandy Park.

And it will be those players who will be looking to lay down some early foundations as the countdown to the new Aviva Premiership and European season looms ever larger on the horizon.

"We’ve talked this week about taking these three friendlies very seriously and not easing into the new season," said Baxter. "I’ve said to the players if you ease in now and let yourself down, you may not get another opportunity before the Premiership starts.

"I think everyone realises where they have to go and how up to speed they have to be."

With just three new additions to the Exeter ranks this summer – Aussie duo Dave Dennis and Greg Holmes, together with Ollie Devoto from Bath – it’s once again a settled look to the Chiefs squad, who will be looking to build on the success of last term when they reached the last eight of the Champions Cup and came runners-up to Saracens in the Premiership.

"Everyone is here and in place, which is kind of unusual to previous years," said Baxter. "Pre-season has run smoothly and we’ve now changed too much from last year for obvious reasons. What we have done, however, is work hard on getting better; being sharper and a bit quicker in what we do because we appreciate everyone else will have got better."

Baxter continued: "Looking at the players in training this week, they now look ready to go and play some rugby. This is the shortest pre-season we have done, it’s been about four or five weeks, and that’s due to the last finish last season.

"That said, the boys look in good nick and look ready to go. I’m a big believer that to be fully ready for a season you need to play a fair bit of rugby, so it’s important the boys get a few games under their belt to get that match fitness and that match sharpness in place before we start."

And first up will be the visit of the Scarlets, followed by Ulster Rugby on August 20 and then a final outing at the Dragons on August 26.

Baxter expects three decent work-outs over the coming weeks, starting with the visit from the Scarlets.

"They were the most successful Welsh region last season, so we know Saturday will be a good test for us," he said. "We’ve had some fantastic games with them in past – not always coming out on top – but it should act as the sort of challenge we want.

"Having a tough pre-season is good, I think, because it lets you know where you stand. We’ve not done a huge amount of contact so far, so these games are an opportunity for the guys to toughen themselves up for the battle ahead."

Tickets for tomorrow’s game, as well as next weekend’s home clash with Ulster Rugby are currently available to buy online or through the Trading Post, which is open Monday to Friday from 9:30am to 4:30pm.

The Premiership games against Saracens, Harlequins and Bath, together with the Anglo-Welsh clash with Cardiff Blues, are also available to purchase.
CHIEFS (1st Half)

15 Lachlan Turner
14 Max Bodilly
13 Ian Whitten
12 Tom Hendrickson
11 James Short
10 Will Hooley
9 Stuart Townsend

1 Carl Rimmer
2 Jack Yeandle (capt)
3 Harry Williams
4 Jonny Hill
5 Damian Welch
6 Dave Ewers
7 Sam Simmonds
8 Kai Horstmann
CHIEFS (2nd Half)

15 Lachlan Turner
14 Olly Woodburn
13 Pete Laverick
12 Sam Hill
11 Matt Jess
10 Gareth Steenson (capt)
9 Jack Maunder

1 Ben Moon
2 Shaun Malton
3 Moray Low
4 Ollie Atkins
5 Geoff Parling
6 Tom Johnson
7 Julian Salvi
8 Thomas Waldrom
16 Elvis Taione
17 Alec Hepburn
18 Tomas Francis
19 Mitch Lees
20 Sam Skinner
21 Ben White
22 Dave Lewis
23 Joe Simmonds
24 Phil Dollman

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