24th July 2015
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Having joined the Aviva Premiership club from Australian outfit Perth Spirit in January, the former England Under-20s international is now firing on all cylinders having fully recovered from the knee injury which blighted his start to life at Sandy Park.


Lining up alongside a large nucleus of Rob Baxter's first team squad at their Topsham training base, Hepburn is looking to make the most of the current pre-season to lay the foundations for what he hopes will be a successful campaign ahead.


"It's a big season for all of us, myself included," said the 22-year-old forward. "Having spent a large part of last season already here at the club and getting my knee right, I can't wait for it all to begin.


"Being out in the sunshine and training, it's certainly much nicer than being inside stuck inside the gym all the time. It's a lot more enjoyable and this is where we hopefully build the foundations for what we hope will be a good start to the season for the whole squad.


"You can see everybody is itching to start and for a lot of us the season can't come around quickly enough. All the people here, they just want to play. Fortunately we get to play a lot of games in training and as part of our conditioning, so the guys look forward to it and they enjoy it."


Just how much the Chiefs squad are enjoying their gruelling daily schedules is certainly up for debate, but Hepburn likes the training mix that is on offer and believes it will stand the Devon club in good stead for what is sure to be their toughest top flight campaign to date.


"I quite like the beach stuff, it's actually good fun," explained Hepburn. "Some other clubs may not use a ball as early as we do here, but at the end of the day the fun bit is playing with a rugby ball.


"Yes, we're here to work hard and learn, but there is a good collective spirit amongst everyone and we all want to achieve something. For me, personally, it may sound a standard answer but I just want to stay in good head and put myself in the best position as I can."


Having watched as the Chiefs came within a whisker of reaching the Premiership play-offs for the first time last season, Hepburn acknowledges that expectations will again be high for Baxter's side, who will also have to contend with returning to the Champions Cup.


"I think just missing out will be a big driving force for all those involved, especially having got so close," added Hepburn, who was part of England's Junior World Championship winning side of 2013.


"Equally, I think those not involved wanting to be pushing just as hard and hopefully - as a club - we can play that one or two weeks extra in the season."

Photo:Exeter Rugby Club/Pinnacle Photo Agency  

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