Olly Woodburn insists he and his Exeter Chiefs team-mates are “up for the fight” ahead of Saturday’s crucial European Champions Cup encounter away to ASM Clermont Auvergne (2pm).
Bottom of the pile in Pool 5 at the start of last weekend, Exeter’s 31-19 home win over Ulster Rugby has lifted Rob Baxter’s side to second in the standings behind their French hosts - and in with a potential chance of claiming one of the remaining spots in the last eight of the competition.
In a somewhat similar scenario to last season, where the Chiefs edged through on the final day with victory over the Ospreys, the Devonians will travel in the knowledge that nothing less than a victory will suffice - and even then that may well not be enough to see them progress.
However, winning at the Stade Marcel Michelin is no easy task - as the Chiefs have found on two previous occasions - but winger Woodburn says confidence is high within the camp and that they don’t fear their rivals
“I’m looking forward to it as it’s going to be my first time in Clermont,” said the 25-year-old. “We’ve always had tough battles against them in the past and I’d imagine this will be no different. That’s said, they are not invincible and we are a very good team in very good form. We want to go down there and show Europe and others in the Premiership that we are going there to fight.”
Certainly the visitors will need to be in much better shape than the last time the two clubs met, Clermont emerging from Sandy Park back in October with a hefty 35-8 that day.
That was, however, a defining day for the Chiefs, who since that humbling have shown much improvement and head into this weekend’s having lost only once in their last nine games.
Woodburn admitted that loss cut deep within the ranks and that it will be lingering in the thoughts of the Exeter contingent ahead of this latest match-up.
He continued: “That was a real slap in the face, especially losing that badly at home. Since then, we’ve re-evaluated as a group, changed one or two things, and moved forward and played some really good rugby since.”
And amongst that good form was a first-ever Champions Cup in France last month when Woodburn was part of the Exeter’s side that defeated Bordeaux-Begles on their own turf.
The former Bath flyer said it was a moment to savour, but he’s keen to savour more moving forward.
“That was a special feeling in a very nice city,” he said. “Getting the win was the most important thing, but after it meant we could go out after the game and celebrate what was a big victory for us. As a team, you have to enjoy wins like that because they really do help pull together a team.”
More of the same this weekend wouldn't go amiss either!
Member since: 5th January 2016
Hi, I am Mark Stevens, Media and Communications Manager for the Exeter Chiefs