Kai Horstmann admits Exeter Chiefs’ slow start to the Aviva Premiership season was a shock to the system, but insists they are now back on track following successive victories.
Rob Baxter’s side lost their first two games of the new campaign to Wasps and defending champions Saracens, in stark contrast to last year where they won six of their first seven.
But wins against Harlequins and Bristol have steadied the ship and the Chiefs now visit Northampton Saints knowing victory could lift them into the top four this weekend.
Exeter are renowned for their team spirit and togetherness, but Horstmann claims their maturity and strength of character saw them through their tough start.
And the 35-year-old ex-Worcester Warriors No.8 says the squad is fully focused and primed to go on a strong run.
“Traditionally we have come out of the traps really well in the past so it was unknown territory for us to lose the first two,” he said.
“But what was crucial was that we did not starting wondering why and asking a lot of ‘what ifs’, we did our analysis properly, we looked at why we did not win those games.
“Everyone bought into the fact that we needed to work hard and put those things right and then wins will come.
“Touch wood, so far we have got two results on the bounce and we have a big challenge Friday.”
Northampton’s start has been far from ideal either, with three defeats from four games – including Saturday’s 20-15 loss at Wasps.
However, with in-form backs George North and Harry Mallinder catching the eye against Wasps, Franklin’s Gardens remains a tough place to go.
And Horstmann believes form means little against Jim Mallinder’s side, who still boast one of the best squads in the league.
“It is always a huge challenge at their place, we know them well,” he said.
“I think they were a little bit unlucky not to be beat Wasps at their place at the weekend and they will be desperate to get a win at home.
“We are fully aware of the challenge that faces us and we are pretty excited by it.
“I imagine it will be a pretty hostile environment going up there but most of us relish that. I think it is a case of focussing on our own performance in the first 10 minutes or so.
“We have to look internally and make sure we get the things we have practicing right and if we do that hopefully we can be in the game.”