TOP BAR - Fixtures

Horstmann relishing Sale battle

Kai Horstmann believes the intense competition for places that currently exists within the Exeter Chiefs squad is helping to bring the best out of players this season.

With Rob Baxter's side currently third in the Aviva Premiership and top of both their European and LV= Cup Pools, it's certainly been a campaign to remember so far for the Devon club.

Saturday's 41-17 home win over La Rochelle in Round Four of this season's European Challenge Cup secured an eighth successive victory for the Chiefs.

However, Horstmann and his team-mates will have little time to reflect on their latest success story, instead they'll be busy focusing their thoughts on Friday's testing Premiership trip to Sale Sharks at the AJ Bell Stadium.

In what head coach Baxter has described as a 'season-defining' month of action for his team, Horstmann is well aware just how important this latest batch of top flight fixtures is for the Chiefs.

"Friday at Sale is a massive game for us," said the experienced No.8. "We are not getting lost with where we are at, we know we have got to continue working hard, but if we can hammer home this next section of league games, then we are in a pretty good place."

Having used the past month to get the bulk of his squad up to speed, Baxter has plenty to ponder in terms of selection ahead of his side's return to league action.

And Horstmann – a try-scorer in Saturday's European win over La Rochelle – will be hoping to be part of the mix that makes the trip to Manchester.

"It is a fantastic squad and shows where we are and the places we are trying to get to," added Horstmann. "The guys are working hard to try and get that starting spot – and that's what you want in a squad like we've got.

"It is a great place to work when you are winning, but at the same time we are very good at keeping our feet firmly on the ground and knowing why we are winning games."

Whereas last season the Chiefs suffered a number of defeats by one score or less, but the 33-year-old forward is happy to portray a much rosier picture this term.

"I would like to think there is a big element of the squad who are learning along the way," he continued. "We learnt some harsh lessons last year and they are still pretty raw with us and we don't want them to happen again. We are an ambitious side, we want big things and we are prepared to work hard for them."
 

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