Cornishman Jack Nowell says he cannot wait to pull on an Exeter Chiefs jersey again as he gears up for the club’s return to Aviva Premiership action against Sale Sharks at Sandy Park on Saturday (3pm).
Nowell has watched from afar as his team-mates have quietly gone about their business in the top flight, positioning themselves nicely in the top two with just five rounds of the scheduled season remaining.
Now, the 23-year-old is looking to play his own part in Exeter’s final run-in, returning to Devon fresh off the back of helping England secure a second RBS Six Nations Championship crown.
“The Six Nations is a long time, so I’ve been looking forward to getting back here, seeing the boys, having that familiarity of being around the club, and running out at Sandy Park,” said Nowell.
“Whilst I’ve been away the boys have done extremely well and the win up at Leicester was a big achievement for us. Watching the games in camp, it was awesome to see the guys going so well because it’s put us in the perfect position for these last few games.
“Right now we’re up in that top two, we obviously want to get top spot, but it’s all there for us to take and really attack over these last few weeks.”
First up for Nowell and the Chiefs is Saturday’s visit of the Sharks, who despite their lowly status within the division, still pose a formidable challenge to Rob Baxter’s side.
“Playing Sale is never easy and we know it will be a big test for us,” warned Nowell. “Whenever you play against them, you know they are going to be physical, get in your face and make lift tough for you. That said, we’re looking at this weekend as a bit of a one-off challenge. We’ve got the game this week, no game next week, so it means we can really go hard at the weekend and see where it takes us.”
With the race of the end of season play-offs really hotting up, however, the Chiefs will be looking to make the most of these final weeks, three of which will see them have home advantage against their rivals.
Sale Sharks are the first visitors to Sandy Park, before local rivals Bristol and Northampton Saints both head west in April.
“Every home game is huge for us, especially as the fans always get behind you here,” added Nowell. “Being away from the place I took a greater understanding of how hard teams find it to come here.
“We know teams don’t look forward to coming here, but we can’t take that for granted. We know we are good here, we know how to play the conditions, we know the field, but you can always keep improving on that.
“Saturday we know is another huge game for the club and it’s important we go out there and really produce a big performance. I know it’s a cliché, but we take every game as it comes. We understand how important each point is in the Premiership, so we have to go out there, focus on ourselves and look to deliver in every aspect of the game.”