Matt Jess believes Exeter Chiefs’ ability to fight on three fronts this season will have a real effect on the club’s long-term development.
The Chiefs sit just a point outside the Aviva Premiership Rugby top four heading into Saturday’s trip to Harlequins, after securing an LV= Cup semi-final date with Leicester Tigers earlier this month as they look to retain that trophy.
A home European Rugby Challenge Cup quarter-final with Newcastle Falcons is also on the horizon, and Jess thinks this amalgamation of fixtures provides the Sandy Park squad with a heightened sense of competition.
“If you look at where we are now, we are in a very good position – we are sitting nicely in the Premiership, and have got a quarter-final and a semi-final as well, so there are a lot of opportunities for lads to get out there and show what they can do,” said Jess.
“Rob (Baxter) doesn’t just stick with one team, he doesn’t mind changing it up and that is great for players, to be refreshed and ready to show what they can give the team.
“If you look back to the seasons before, we have been in a quarter-final before when we played Stade Francais away, and they are exciting competitions to be in.
“Going after different competitions is good for the players, the coaches and the team, because we are striving in all directions and that pushes us on.
“It is all about pushing on now and enjoying those atmospheres when they come along.
“For me, every week seems to be more and more exciting, because different tournaments freshen the brain and the body.”
While competition for places at Sandy Park may be at an all-time high with the Chiefs’ continuing success, Jess himself has been a regular starter on the wing this season, making 19 appearances to date.
But despite his good run in the side, during which he has crossed the whitewash on three occasions, the winger is taking nothing for granted.
“The whole squad is very competitive and you have got to stay on your toes, because there are other players pushing you to get in that squad,” he added.
“Obviously you don’t want to be training and not playing, you want to be implementing what you are doing in training on those Saturdays, those big occasions either in front of the Sandy Park faithful or away in the Premiership.
“Your performances on the pitch and the way that you train are ultimately what gets you picked, so all you can hope is to do the best you can.”
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