Great expectations at Chiefs

Exeter Chiefs hooker Chris Whitehead

Exeter squad has great expectations for this season and want a top four Aviva Premiership place.

It was interesting to sit back and think about how my perception of the Exeter Chiefs as a club has changed in the last 12 months.

Last season, if we had come away from Northampton with a narrow defeat having led in the second half, I would probably have been satisfied with a losing bonus point.

After last Sunday’s 24-21 loss however, I felt frustrated.

They have a huge and well-drilled pack at the Saints and they defended well against our driving maul. It was also the first time that our pack was not on top in a game for a long time.

Despite that, we still fought back, stuck in there and had the game to win with half an hour left.

When we stuck to our game plan and played our rugby, we looked like a good team – but it was not to be.

Every single player in our squad now wants us to be a top four side.

That’s no longer a far-off distant dream – we think it can be reality. If we needed any further proof of how good a club we can be, last year’s fifth-placed finish proved that.

Now, it’s a case of realising that potential and going on the next step.

To take that next step, we need to beat sides like Northampton when we get ahead of them.

The fact that we didn’t led to frustration and annoyance throughout the squad.

We will learn from what happened and Franklin’s Gardens and we must take that frustration out on London Welsh this weekend. We need to have the right attitude and go out there and get back to winning ways.

Rob Baxter and the players here know that we need to beat sides like Welsh and then take points off the top teams if we are to make a dent on that top four.

We have to realise that there are some guys who can play some serious rugby here. Gone are the days when we just rolled around a big pack.

We have some excellent coaches and we do a lot of work on our ball skills. We had the ball in our hands form day one of pre-season training and not a lot of other teams do that.

Every one of us wants to be seen as a good ball-handler because that is the way that the game is going. We have adapted our game and, as we get more experienced at playing that way, our confidence will hopefully grow so that we are winning games like last Sunday, not losing them.

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