No sooner had the final whistle blown on Sunday night then Exeter winger James Short was already looking to the future and the next challenge that awaits the in-form Chiefs.
Fresh from securing their place in the last eight of the European Champions Cup for the first time in the club’s history, now Devon’s finest are hard at work preparing for their impending trip to Worcester Warriors in the Aviva Premiership this weekend.
Sunday’s showdown at Sixways (3pm) marks the start of a demanding ten-week block of top flight fixtures for Rob Baxter’s side, who currently lie second in the standings, just three points adrift of leaders and defending champions Saracens.
Short, a summer signing from London Irish, knows the importance of this next block of games and he says the focus is clear and concise for himself and his fellow Chiefs as they look to push on.
“Sunday was a great result for us and probably more than what we could have asked for,” said the 26-year-old. “I think we set out with the aim of looking to put in a good performance at home, but in the end we’ve come away with a bonus point win, topped the group and now we’re in the quarter-finals of Europe.”
Last weekend’s 33-17 success over the Ospreys was yet another notable scalp for the Chiefs, who despite a crippling injury list in recent times have continued to keep producing top class performances.
Winger Short crossed twice against the Welsh region, as did the free-scoring Thomas Waldrom, and former Worcester favourite Kai Horstmann completed the try-scoring with an early touchdown.
Exeter’s win meant that not only did they progress in Europe, but they maintained their impressive home record which has seen them now go over a calendar year undefeated on their own turf.
“Our home record is a big thing for us,” explained Short. “Sandy Park is a real fortress these days and we wanted to prove it against the Ospreys. When we played them earlier in the season, we felt we didn’t really put in the performance we wanted and we were beaten on the day.
“This time we wanted to go out there and put our game on them and that’s what we did.”
More of the same, however, will be needed this weekend against a Warriors side who, despite their league status, have shown up well on their return to English rugby’s top tier.
“It’s going to be tough up there,” warned the Redhill-born flyer. “If you look at Worcester’s games this season, they’ve all been pretty close. They’ve got a decent side up there and we know we’ll need to put in another big performance if we’re to get anything from the game.”
That said, the Chiefs will head into Sunday’s contest full of confidence and keen to keep up their pursuit of Saracens, who provide the next opposition at Sandy Park on February 7.
Short, himself a former Premiership winner with Sarries, knows what needs to be done, but says his own impressive form is down to a number of factors since he headed to the Westcountry back in July.
“I’m really enjoying it down here and the move has definitely exceeded all expectations,” he. “Last year wasn’t the greatest year for me rugby-wise, but I have come down, jumped in at the deep end as such, and I’m really enjoying it.
“On and off the field, life couldn’t be better and we have a great bunch of guys here.”
Indeed, the stats certainly back up Short’s own claim that he is enjoying himself. Seven tries in 13 appearances put him second in the try-scoring charts, three adrift of Waldrom who himself has accrued a staggering 27 tries in 40 appearances since he moved to Sandy Park from Leicester Tigers in the summer of 2014.
And with such finishing power at their disposal, it’s little wonder pundits are predicting big things ahead for the Chiefs.