Academy set-up crucial to Exeter long term

Exeter Chiefs hooker Chris Whitehead

As we continue to grow as a club and strive to establish ourselves alongside some of the biggest clubs in the country, the challenge to keep bringing through talented young players gets ever greater.

With the world as it is and a salary cap to work with, it is simply not viable for clubs like Exeter to buy in lots of expensive talent from abroad.

And that makes the fruits of our Academy set-up crucial to our long-term aims.

This time of year is a good time to showcase what young players are coming through our system with the LV= Cup upon us.

They may be young but I believe some of the lads we have got in our Academy will prove themselves more than capable of competing in the Premiership environment.

Guys like Luke Cowan Dickie and Henry Slade have already been involved with the England Under-20s and impressed on a national scale.

Luke is a prop but I think he has all of the attributes to become a really good hooker if he decided to give that a go.

Then we also have a lad called Will Carrick-Smith. He’s 20 years old but is 6 feet 10 inches tall and 18-and-a-half stones. Imaginatively, we call him “Too Tall” and the scary is that he is still growing I think.

There are other lads around the club who will be given their chance in the first team over the next few weeks and it will be interesting to see how they get on.

We start at London Welsh on Sunday and, as with most other clubs, they will be putting some of their young guys in too.

I have been given a rest period this week after what has been a seriously challenging schedule for us.

The Heineken Cup games were bruising and the Aviva Premiership continues to get tougher and tougher each year.

It was nice to go into the LV= Cup break with a win under our belts though to keep us sixth in the table.

We played very well in the first half against Worcester and got off to a big lead.

We didn’t carry that on in the second half though and were left disappointed in some ways that we couldn’t add one more try to pick up a bonus point.

I suppose it’s a good thing if we are thinking like that after beating a side as good as Worcester.

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Chris Whitehead playing against Irish opposition, Chiefs are targetting regular Heineken Cup action

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