Heading into the first weekend of Premiership Rugby, excitement is building at Exeter Chiefs especially regarding the impending arrival of Stuart Hogg. Although he is unlikely to feature for a couple of weeks Baxter cannot wait for him to return from Japan.
Last Word on Rugby caught up with Director of Rugby Rob Baxter, Dave Dennis and Alec Hepburn ahead of their clash with Harlequins at Sandy Park on Saturday. All three are excited to get their campaign underway proper after four rounds of Premiership Rugby Cup.
Stuart Hogg ready to “experience something new”
Exeter Chiefs fans may have had a small smile on their faces when Scotland crashed out of the World Cup to Japan. Their departure meant the arrival of Stuart Hogg was closer than most thought.
When asked about his new star signing Baxter said that he had been in contact with Stuart Hogg and expected his arrival at the club on Friday 18th October. After a medical screening and a short period of rest Baxter noted that “he might take a full part in training next week”.
The arrival of Stuart Hogg is a huge moment for Chiefs as arguably their biggest signing. This excitement will be boosted by Hogg’s eagerness to get going. Hogg apparently said to Baxter that the wanted ”to get back into it and play more rugby”.
Clean Bill of Health for Chiefs
Baxter was also happy to report that his side picked up no injuries after their match against Bristol. The only slight concern is Dave Ewers who is coping with an illness. However, the medical staff will assess him at the end of the week.
More positive news for Chiefs fans is that Elvis Taione, Stu Townsend and Alex Cuthbert are all back in full training. Baxter also expects a few more of his injured stars to come back into contention over the next few weeks as well.
Dennis Expects a Close Encounter with Quins
Embed from Getty ImagesAustralian international was quick to point out that he expects a really tough game at the weekend. He is targeting a full eighty-minute performance with “focus and intensity that you apply for the whole match”.
Baxter echoed this sentiment when he said that the team that wins “going to work hardest the longest’. Exeter is definitely not going to take this match lightly and Baxter expects the game to come down to fine margins.
“The game isn’t going to be decided one way or another for quite a long period of the eighty minutes”
Chiefs will not “forget to enjoy the here and now”
When asked about the prospect of a third Premiership Final in a row Baxter, Dennis and Hepburn were quick to point out that they are fully focused on one week at a time.
Although this may seem clichéd Baxter noted that “this should be a great fixture” and “we’ve got to make sure we are cherishing that”.
Hepburn echoed his coach’s thoughts when he said that the favorites “tag is only with us as long as we keep playing well”.
Premiership Intensity is a Step-Up
Is it their turn to claim gold 🏅 and wear the crown 👑?? pic.twitter.com/Q5ITplW7Ss
— Premiership Rugby (@premrugby) October 16, 2019
All teams have now played four competitive games coming into the Premiership. However, Baxter expects this weekend to be very different. He has pointed out to his players that Premiership Rugby “should feel different” and “whatever [they’re] going to facing is going to be tougher”.
Hepburn also noted that subconsciously the training has stepped up this week. He said that “intensity in training has gone up a notch” and they know they need to get more out of each other.
Overall, the welcome return of Premiership Rugby is exciting for all. It appears that Exeter is taking nothing for granted this year especially with the disruption caused by the World Cup. Expect a lot of thrills and spills this weekend but do not expect a backward step to be taken at Sandy Park.
“Main Photo Credits”
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