EXETER CHIEFS continue incredible rugby journey

Exeter Chiefs crestExeter Chiefs first Aviva Premiership final against Saracens at Twickenham today (1500ko) is not the end of a journey but merely the start according to head coach Rob Baxter.

Chiefs head to the capital along with a travelling tribe of thousands of supporters today.

Defending champions Saracens aim to retain the top domestic club title they won 12 months ago, against Bath, to add to the European crown they collected just a fortnight ago.

Baxter believes “Today is not the end of our journey as a club. We are a relatively new Premiership club with a relatively young team but this is just a step along the way for us.

“As a club we want to be in a lot more of these big games. We want to be a better team in Europe than we are, so this is not the end of line for us, it’s just another step along the journey and that's how I want the lads to approach it this weekend.”

Buoyed by last Sunday's 34-23 semi-final victory over Wasps at Sandy Park, Baxter has named an unchanged starting XV for their trip to English Rugby’s HQ. The only changes come on the bench where injuries to Thomas Waldrom (knee) and Sam Hill (hamstring) mean that Kai Horstmann and Michele Campagnaro are added to the mix.

Damian Welch returns to the bench having recovered from a knee injury.

Chiefs will be skippered by the Premiership’s top points-scorer for the season, fly-half Gareth Steenson.

Steenson’s big-game mentality, coupled with the experience of key figures such as Geoff Parling and Julian Salvi – both of who have claimed the Premiership title with Leicester Tigers – and the emergence of rising international stars such as Jack Nowell, Luke Cowan-Dickie, Tomas Francis and Henry Slade mean the mind-set should be there for the Chiefs to sparkle.

“Guys like Nowellsy, Dickie and Sladey, they’ve played in front of 80,000 crowds before,” added Baxter. “Then the likes of Geoff and Julian Salvi, they’ve been in finals before and won the competition, so when you look at the squad we’ve actually got quite a few guys who have been in this type of environment before. The challenge will be if we can bring it all together as a team.”

Chiefs final starting 15 Phil Dollman 14 Jack Nowell 13 Henry Slade 12 Ian Whitten 11 Olly Woodburn 10 Gareth Steenson (capt) 9 Will Chudley 1 Ben Moon 2 Luke Cowan-Dickie 3 Harry Williams 4 Mitch Lees 5 Geoff Parling 6 Dave Ewers 7 Julian Salvi 8 Don Armand

Ready on the bench 16 Jack Yeandle 17 Alec Hepburn 18 Tomas Francis 19 Damian Welch 20 Kai Horstmann 21 Dave Lewis 22 Michele Campagnaro 23 James Short

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