After an impressive start to the Aviva Premiership Rugby season, Exeter Chiefs skipper Dean Mumm says his side are about to find out what they’re really made of.
The Chiefs have picked up four wins from their opening six fixtures and find themselves sitting third in the table – five points behind leaders Northampton Saints.
However, while wins over London Welsh, Harlequins, Newcastle Falcons, and London Irish have helped Chiefs ascend the table in the early stages of the season, they are yet to face any of the current top five.
That will all change in the coming weeks and this weekend they have the chance to reduce the gap at the top of the table when they make the trip to Franklin’s Gardens to take on Saints.
It is a match that will kick-start a run of three games against top five teams – with Wasps and Saracens heading to Sandy Park before the end of the month.
A win against Bath in the LV=Cup has given Exeter belief and Mumm knows that the upcoming clashes will give Chiefs a real indication of where they are as a team.
“Winning against Bath, regardless of what competition, is always very important for us and our fans, so we take pride in those matches and were very pleased with last week’s result,” said the 30-year-old.
“We’ll have a chat about the start of the season in three weeks time, at this stage we still have a lot to prove in the Premiership and on all fronts, though it could be much worse.
“It’s been a good start to the season for the team, but the next three games are the real litmus test as to where we are as you come up against three of the top five sides in the Premiership, which is the focus for us this year.
“If you’re good in the first half this year you won’t look back to last year, so it’s in our hands.”
While Chiefs came out of the blocks firing on all cylinders this season it was a very different story for Mumm who had to watch on from the sidelines after undergoing shoulder surgery in the summer.
But the Aussie made his comeback for Exeter against Gloucester in the LV=Cup and followed that up with 80 minutes in their win against Bath.
And he says that he will continue to improve in the coming weeks as he seeks to help Exeter consolidate their league position.
“I wasn’t 100 per cent in the first game, I was pretty tired, and last week I was very happy to get through 80 minutes, because there is no substitute for match fitness,” he added.
“I felt good out there last week. There’s timing elements in contact and a number of things that will get better the longer your play, so I’m hoping to take steps every week I play.
“Hopefully the hard work is done, in terms of regaining fitness, but my sharpness will improve as the weeks go by.”
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