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Jack Yeandle: Exeter Chiefs eyeing fast start in Champions Cup

Exeter Chiefs’ skipper Jack Yeandle has challenged his team-mates to learn from previous European adventures and start their Champions Cup campaign with a bang against Clermont Auvergne.

The Chiefs have been placed in a tough looking Champions Cup pool alongside French giants Clermont, Bordeaux-Begles and Ulster.

Last season Rob Baxter’s Exeter were dumped out of Europe by Wasps at the Ricoh Arena in the knockout stages, while they also reached the Aviva Premiership Rugby final before losing to Saracens.

After a challenging start to the new league campaign, the Chiefs have found their feet in recent weeks and Yeandle insists it’s crucial they start their European odyssey with a win on Sunday if they have serious aspirations of winning this year’s competition.

Baxter’s Exeter are now regular visitors to Europe’s premier competition, and Yeandle insists the Chiefs must learn from previous campaigns if they’re to flourish the time around.

“The big lesson we have learned is not to rely on other results to get though,” said Yeandle.

“If we want to push on and have a big learn from last year, it would keeping our destiny in our hands and making sure that we go out and perform and put in a decent result and get the performance right.

“It had to come down to the wire last year and it was a pretty special memory but nobody really knew until we were actually in the changing room.

“Making sure that if we get off to a good start this year, after two rounds if we could be pretty safe and secure that we’re heading in the right path, it’s about nailing that down and making sure we do it.

“When you’ve got French giants like Clermont coming over and teams along that line, it’s a very passionate crowd and if you show that emotion on the pitch, the crowd very much gets behind and you can really feel that buzz going throughout the whole stadium

“It’s the top level of club rugby. If you ever want to improve and make yourself better you want to be playing against the best players that you possibly can be in the competition.”

Yeandle believes the style of rugby needed to be successful in the Champions Cup differs somewhat from the week-in-week-out grind and rivalry of Aviva Premiership Rugby.

And the hooker believes it’s crucial to win your home games in the competition if you want to progress and has singled out Exeter’s opener against Clermont at Sandy Park as a must-win if the Chiefs want to progress.

“It’s a different challenge to the Aviva Premiership,” he added. “It’s played slightly differently, it’s a slightly different style of rugby but nevertheless the competition is intense and you must be at your best.

“Going to the pool stages, I think very much getting off to a good start in the first two rounds is crucial to your success.

“We’re starting with a home performance and you definitely need to pick up results at your home ground, so we need to start with a bang and hopefully that’ll give us momentum to take on the road.

“When playing away from home it’s very much about staying inside in our bubble and trying to pressure the opposition and trying to nullify their crowd, because a home crowd can really affect a performance.”

European Professional Club Rugby (EPCR) is the organiser of the European Rugby Champions Cup, the European Rugby Challenge Cup and the Challenge Cup Qualifying Competition. Follow all the excitement of another thrilling season of European action at www.epcrugby.com

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