Lachie Turner insists he and his Exeter Chiefs team-mates can expect to face a ‘massive challenge’ when they lock horns with rivals Leicester Tigers in Saturday’s Aviva Premiership encounter at Welford Road (3pm).
The defending champions and table-topping Chiefs will arrive in the East Midlands looking not only to maintain pole position in the standings, but build on a run of form that has seen them collect five points in each of their last three league fixtures.
The latest success story came last Sunday at Sandy Park, where Rob Baxter’s side put to bed Wasps 31-17 in the first meeting of last season’s top two clubs.
Olly Woodburn’s first half brace, coupled with scores for Dave Dennis and Don Armand, set the Chiefs on their way to victory, before Shaun Malton and the boot of Gareth Steenson completed the job for the Devonians.
Full-back Turner was part and parcel of that victory and the Aussie international is keen for more of the same this weekend against a Tigers outfit, who will be hellbent on delivering a top quality performance in front of their home supporters.
“It’s a massive challenge,” said the 30-year-old back. “Leicester are a great side, they are very tough to play at home, and their supporters really get behind them. Last year, though, our win up there [34-15] was probably the one that really stood out for us. It was a big win, away from home, and it sent us on our way really.
“As I said, though, we know what is ahead of us this weekend, but as a team we’re really looking forward to the challenge.”
Indeed, the Chiefs have every reason to be cheerful, having recovered from their opening week loss at Gloucester by then recording victories over London Irish, Worcester Warriors and, of course, Wasps.
“Yes, we’re top of the table and people will be looking at us, but at the end of the day it’s still very early in the season,” added the 15-capped Wallaby. “Right now teams are still finding their style and their techniques, so I don’t think you can read too much into where people stand at the moment.
“From our perspective, we have been playing some good footy and hopefully that will continue again this weekend.”
Very much part and parcel of the Chiefs mix, having arrived in Devon back in early 2016, the vastly experienced Turner has paid tribute to the work of his team-mates and the club’s coaching staff in providing an environment that is not only built around hard work, but is hugely successful at the same time.
“I think you have to give credit to the coaching staff and to the senior players within the squad,” added Turner. “The way we are led from Monday to Friday, plus what we do on the training paddock during the week, is ultimately what you see on the pitch at the weekend. It doesn’t matter who gets the jersey, everyone knows their role here.”
And with the battle for a place within the match-day 23 as hot as ever, Turner acknowledges that once you have a jersey, it’s imperative you do your utmost to keep hold of it.
“You want to make the most of your opportunities, just because you may not get another for a while,” he continued. “If you look back to last season, the guys went on a 13, 14-game unbeaten run, so it’s hard to change things when it’s like that. At the moment we’ve got a few injuries across the squad, but guys are getting their chance to lay claims for that jersey.”