Ricky Pellow says a big fortnight lies ahead for his Exeter Chiefs side as they prepare to resume battle in this season’s Anglo-Welsh Cup.
Having already dispatched Northampton Saints (43-28) and Scarlets (40-0) in the opening two rounds, the Chiefs head to Worcester Warriors tomorrow (3pm) looking to maintain their impressive winning formula in the competition, whilst at the same time keeping rivals Harlequins and Sale Sharks firmly at bay.
With the battle for a place in the last four set to intensity over the next two weeks, Cornishman Pellow knows his side can ill afford any kind of slip-up at Sixways this weekend.
“It’s going to be a hell of a challenge for us at the weekend,” he said. “They [Worcester] have talked a lot in the press this week about how they are going to revert back to full strength and put a strong side out, so from that perspective we know it’s going to be a good test for us.
“That said, as a club these are the challenges you want to face when you play. When we came in on Monday after the disappointment of the Glasgow result in Europe, we set our objectives for the week and what we wanted to achieve from this weekend’s game.
“Yes, we’ll change things up a little bit in terms of selection, but for a lot of the players that come into the squad this is a great opportunity for them to not only show what they can offer in terms of this weekend, but also what they can offer moving forward in the future.”
As Pellow rightly mentioned, Exeter’s line-up for tomorrow’s Round Three is much changed from that of recent weeks, but crucially there is an abundance of talent and experience within the ranks that will surely serve the club well.
“We always put a big emphasis on this competition,” explained skills coach Pellow. “Ever since we got into the Premiership, we’ve always said whatever competition we play in, we’ll attack it and we’ll go after it as hard as we can.
“Although we were disappointed to lose at Glasgow last week and drop out of the Champions Cup, we would still have the same emphasis going into this week if we were still in Europe. Right now we’re top of the pool, but we know both Sale and Harlequins are chasing us hard. That’s why these next two weeks are really big, not just for the club and what we want to achieve this season, but also for the players themselves as there is an awful lot that they want to achieve together.
“One of our strengths as a club is the structures we put in place. Whether you play in the first team or you are playing for the Under-15s, Under-16s or Under-18s, we tend to run the same structures and the same principles, so that when players outside of our senior squad come in, there is not too much of a problem in terms of the transition of things.
“That means that for an academy player or a young player coming into the side, they are not only made to feel welcome straight away, but they know the systems, they know the way they want to play, and they are comfortable playing with our senior guys who, I know, make them feel very welcome in the environment we have created.”
Ahead of kick-off, Pellow has named Kai Horstmann as his skipper for the game and the experienced back-row forward leads a powerful line-up into battle against his former club. He will pack down in an Exeter eight alongside the likes of Moray Low, Elvis Taione, Ollie Atkins and Julian Salvi, while behind Stu Townsend and Joe Simmonds will be given licence to run the show from half-backs.
There are also starts for the likes of Tom Hendrickson, Pete Laverick and Tom O’Flaherty, all of whom will be hoping to impress the watching Chiefs coaching staff.
On the bench, there is also plenty of ammunition with England international Jack Maunder, hooker Shaun Malton and the returning Wilhelm Van Der Sluys, another former Warrior, all ready to offer their input into proceedings.
15 Harvey Skinner
14 Tom O’Flaherty
13 Pete Laverick
12 Tom Hendrickson
11 Harry Strong
10 Joe Simmonds
9 Stu Townsend
1 Moray Low
2 Elvis Taione
3 Marcus Street
4 Ollie Atkins
5 Toby Salmon
6 Kai Horstmann (capt)
7 Julian Salvi
8 Tom Lawday
16 Shaun Malton
17 James Kenny
18 Jack Owlett
19 Wilhem Van Der Sluys
20 Sean Lonsdale
21 Jack Maunder
22 Sam Morley
23 Sal M’Boge
Member since: 5th January 2016
Hi, I am Mark Stevens, Media and Communications Manager for the Exeter Chiefs