Elvis Taione admits the family feeling around the Exeter Chiefs squad has helped him feel right at home at Sandy Park.
The Tongan hooker made his Aviva Premiership Rugby debut at London Welsh on the opening day of the season, as the Chiefs kicked off their campaign with a 52-0 success.
That victory was a sign of things to come from Rob Baxter’s men, seven wins from their first nine league matches laying the foundations for a season in which they sit second in the table with five rounds to go
They also came agonisingly close to a dramatic retention of the LV= Cup last weekend, producing a stirring comeback against Saracens in the final only to be sunk by a last-gasp Ben Spencer penalty.
Taione started for the Chiefs at Franklin’s Gardens and he believes it is the club’s never say die attitude, so evident in Sunday’s showpiece event, which typifies the united nature of the West Country outfit.
“We have a hugely tight-knit group here and we pride ourselves on how hard we work for each other,” the 31-year-old said.
“You could tell in the last 20 minutes of the LV= Cup final just how close we are as a squad, and it was just a shame we couldn’t finish it off.
“I could not ask for a better place to be playing my rugby at the minute. The lifestyle, the people I work with and meet, absolutely everything at Exeter is fantastic.
“It is a big difference to other places. Normally it takes me a little while to get used to a new club, but from day one here everything just clicked.
“The boys welcomed me with open arms, and from the very first game – a friendly at Cardiff Blues – I could tell from the support that this was an incredible place to be.
“It always helps to have old faces helping me as well, guys like Sireli Naqelevuki and Fetu’u Vainikolo, who can help you find your feet early on.
“But the same goes for the whole team – everyone is on the same level, there are no superstars in the dressing room.”
The Chiefs' next challenge as they look to secure a home semi-final is a trip to Welford Road to face a Leicester Tigers side who have enjoyed an Aviva Premiership Rugby rejuvenation in recent weeks.
And the Exeter hooker insists his side are not getting ahead of themselves, as their first ever top four finish becomes an increasing possibility.
“We are taking it one game at a time at the minute, we are certainly not looking too far ahead,” he added.
“We know what we need to do and we are capable of doing it. Everything is in our hands, and hopefully the results will come with that.
“The Leicester game will not be an easy one, and obviously it is a tough place to go and get a result, but we are confident in our ability to come away with the points.”
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