Exeter Chiefs might have missed out on the Champions Cup last season, but captain Jack Yeandle insists they are eager to make up for lost time this year.
Having finished fifth in just their second Aviva Premiership Rugby campaign, Exeter suddenly found themselves rubbing shoulders with Europe’s big boys in the 2012-13 season.
They won two of their pool games while history repeated itself the following term as both times Rob Baxter’s charges fell at the first hurdle.
That second European campaign also took its toll domestically as Chiefs missed out on Champions Cup qualification, but a fifth-place finish last season means they are back having been drawn in Pool Two with last year’s runners-up Clermont Auvergne, Ospreys and Bordeaux Begles.
And while thoughts of Exeter strutting their stuff on Europe’s biggest stage at the beginning at the decade might have been scoffed at, Yeandle is adamant Chiefs won’t be simply making up the numbers this time around.
“It is something we strive to do, always get into the top six so we can push into the Champions Cup and we are back here again,” the 25-year-old hooker said.
“We had a good run of it the year before last and we really enjoyed the experience going up against top French teams and European teams.
“It was really big for the club but this year we want to push on. We want to push on as a club and we feel as though we have developed more and now the challenge is to push on and get out of our opening pool.
“We are looking to keep taking it week in, week out and just keeping ourselves mentally and physically fresh as possible.
“Any wins you can keep picking up will hopefully keep the momentum going so it is a big importance to try and keep that ball rolling and keep going back-to-back with the wins.
“This is the top European competition you can be in, and only the best clubs can be in it for a reason.
“It is going to be a spectacle we are lucky to play in and hopefully we can push on and get out of this pool.”
First up for Exeter in this year’s Champions Cup is a trip to Wales to take on Ospreys at the Liberty Stadium on Sunday November 15.
And while a game in the more familiar surroundings of Sandy Park would have been welcome, Yeandle is champing at the bit to dish out some World Cup revenge on the Welsh.
“I am sure they [the Welsh] will remind us very kindly of the World Cup for the next four or so years, but we have never actually been to the Ospreys so it will be nice to go there and play at the Liberty,” he added.
“They bring their own challenges, their own style of rugby, but there is not going to be any easy games, they are going to be plenty of challenges and it is the top 20 teams in Europe for a reason.
“So when it comes to that week we will analyse what we can and get stuck into them.
“It is very important to get off to a fast start. You want to try and accumulate as much as you can from your home games and any points you can get on the road will be a real bonus.
“So we will go up there and hopefully fire a shot, and it comes down to how well we can prepare in the week.”
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