24th February 2014
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The 29-year-old winger is set to make only his second top flight start as he is one of two inclusions Rob Baxter has made to the Chiefs starting XV ahead of their trip to Allianz Park.

Vainikolo - who was signed last summer from Irish side Connacht - comes in for Tom James on the wing, whilst Henry Slade's inclusion in the centre means Phil Dollman reverts to full-back at the expense of Luke Arscott.

The opportunity, however, is one the Tofoa-born flyer is keen to take up as the Devon club look to bounce back from successive home defeats to leaders Northampton Saints and third-placed Bath Rugby.

"The last couple of weeks we have come up just short," said Vainikolo. "Now we need to come up with a win and this is a good chance for us. I think all of us are looking forward to it, it should be a good game and a good challenge."

Sandwiched inbetween both the Saints and Bath are Saracens, who themselves won 16-9 at Sandy Park earlier in the season. 

And Vainikolo is well aware that Mark McCall's men - playing on their 4G artificial surface - will be a tough nut to crack as the Chiefs target crucial league points.

"We've been playing on some muddy fields recently, so it will be good to play on a quicker surface," joked Vainikolo. "It should suit our game plan because we love to run with the ball."

Despite recent setbacks, the experienced winger says the mood within the Exeter camp remains upbeat and that a victory tomorrow will offer the perfect pick-me-up.

"We're disappointed, there is no doubt about that," he said. "But the confidence is still there and we'll go up there and look to get a win. Right now it's only small margins between winning and losing, but we know we need to cut down the mistakes that we have been making. At this level, you can't afford to make those mistakes because the top sides will punish you."

Indeed, the ruthless nature of the Premiership is something that Vainikolo says make the league one of the toughest in world rugby.

"The Premiership is definitely harder than what I've faced before," he continued. "You have got to turn up week in, week out or you'll get punished. It's tough here for sure, but I think we're a strong side and we want to finish the season strongly because we deserve that for the hard work that we put in at the beginning."

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Dave B

Member since: 10th July 2012

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