Taione Out To Make His Mark
17th July 2014
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The 31-year-old is one of seven new signings brought to Sandy Park by head coach Rob Baxter this summer and already the experienced forward is setting his sights high ahead of the 2014/15 campaign.

Not only is Taione keen on playing a key role within Baxter's first-team make-up, but he hopes his on-field actions will be enough to put him in contention for the South Sea Islanders.

Ironically, Tonga play one of their four Pool C fixtures in next year's World Cup at Sandy Park when they tackle African qualifiers Namibia on September 29, 2015.

Alongside club-mate and compatriot Fetu'u Vainikolo, both admit they are targeting the chance to represent their country right here in Devon.

"I am here to play for the Chiefs but always at the back of your mind is the bigger picture and it is a goal of mine to represent my country in the World Cup,” said Taione, who joined from Championship club Jersey. "Hopefully, if I do well for Exeter then everything will take care of itself."

Indeed, the hard work has already begun for Taione, who has previously been on the playing books of Aussie Super Rugby sides Waratahs and Western Force.

"Pre-season has been a bit different to normal for me, but the work we are putting in now will help us along the season," he added. "It is all about hard work now and finding out what you have. You just have to get your head down and put in 100 per cent.

"The coaches told me to put my head down, work hard and try to learn as quickly as I can the way that the Chiefs play.

"I think I am adjusting to it well. I am new to the Premiership and I know the challenge is going to be a step up for me compared to the Championship, but the challenges excite me."

Testing himself in English rugby's top tier is one thing for Taione, but breaking into the Chiefs match-day squad will be another especially with Jack Yeandle, Luke Cowan-Dickie and Greg Bateman all vying for the No.2 jersey.

“I look around and see Dickie, Jack Yeandle and Bateman to keep me on my toes,” Taione said. "It is very exciting. It is hard for me in a way, but it is a healthy competition. We are only going top push each other and it is going to be good for me and good for them.

"The squad is very, very talented and I am very impressed with it. On top of that, when it comes to being competitive on the training field, everyone puts it and nobody is stepping back."

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Dave B

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