Chiefs Squad To Face Blues
18th August 2014
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Having defeated the Welsh region twice in last season's Heineken Cup, Rob Baxter's side know they can expect a riposte of sorts on their latest venture into the Principality.


Weeks of graft on the training field have all but ended for the Chiefs - and it's on-field matters that take centre stage as the countdown to the new 2014/15 season begins in earnest.


Baxter will take the majority of his first-team squad to the Arms Park for tonight's fixture, including all eight of his summer signings.


The Chiefs intend to utilise their squad to the max against the Blues with different line-ups expected in each half of the game – and the head coach says he is keen to see how pre-season work on the training paddock is now transformed onto the pitch.


"We are expecting there to be the odd mistake," said Baxter. "That is bound to happen because pre-season games always have a lot of hurly burly going on. We'll look to use the majority of our senior squad in the game and get as many people involved as possible.


"From a coaching perspective it's very much about seeing how the guys perform in a match scenario again. What I want from our guys is for them to get out there, show some enthusiasm, play hard and get involved in the game.


"There are one or two things we want to look at in attack and similarly in defence we have a few things we want to try out, but overall it's nothing massive. There is not going to be a huge sea change from anything that happened last year, just the odd tweak and move-on. 


"Pre-season is all about things we can look at and work with, some of those may work well and we progress with them, but others may get consigned to the dustbin and we move on again."


With the Blues first up, the Chiefs will continue their preparation with future games against Ulster and Worcester Warriors before they kick-off their Aviva Premiership campaign at London Welsh on Sunday, September 7.


Baxter expects the battle for a starting spot to intensify over the coming weeks and says he hopes all his players make the most of opportunities that are afforded to him.


He added: "I am expecting to see a lot of competition because I actually feel we have a very strong squad here this season. I think what I want to see most from these three games are 30-odd guys fighting for a starting place.

"As I said, I think we have a good intelligent group here and I know they have worked hard in pre-season. Now I'm looking forward to see the lessons we have learnt in training put into a pressure environment because now you throw contact into the mix, everything changes on that front.


"We know we can't train full-on like that for long periods of time because you'll injure players, so it's important we see how the guys stand up to that pressure."


Certainly the Chiefs will have a familiar feel to their line-ups, but there will be the sprinkling of new talent within the mix and Baxter is keen to see how his new recruits perform in their first outing for the Devon club.


He continued: "The new guys have settled in well, but the proof of the pudding will be in the eating. I have been really pleased with how they have settled in and it's great they will all get some game time in Cardiff.  The work ethic they’ve shown and how they’ve settled in off the rugby field, it's all very encouraging.


"Now we get to see what they’re really like on a rugby pitch. It’s a great opportunity for those guys, I’m sure they’ll fit in fine. They’re bound to take a bit of time, but I have no doubt they’ll fit in pretty seamlessly from what I’ve seen so far.”

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