Exeter boss Rob Baxter says short turnaround is not ideal for Sale clash

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Rob Baxter accepts that Exeter have not been faced with “an ideal situation” as they return to Aviva Premiership action on Friday.

The Chiefs visit Sale just five days after they claimed a stunning European Champions Cup victory over Montpellier in France.

The short turnaround will undoubtedly test Exeter physically and mentally, but there will be no excuses from the league champions’ camp.

“It’s not an ideal situation for us, but at the end of the day it is what it is,” Chiefs rugby director Baxter said.

“We have had a relatively short week, where we’ve not put a lot of energy out on the field, but we’ve worked hard on other aspects to ensure the guys will be in the best condition possible for Friday night.

“We have got some good options to work with, more so in the forwards than the backs, but it’s still a very strong and competitive side we can put out on to the field.

“As coaches, we are feeling comfortable with the side we are taking to Sale, and I am expecting a big performance from us.”

Although the clubs are separated by seven places in the Premiership – Exeter lie second, with Sale in ninth – Baxter expects a stern examination from the Sharks.

“Sale at home are a huge test of your attitude and your commitment to getting out there and working hard,” he added. “That said, I would like to think that is one of our strengths. Certainly, I would like to think we can go there, challenge the players to front-up, while at the same time be ourselves and look to impose our game on them.

“That’s what we have talked a lot about this week in the build-up to the game, so now it’s up to the players to show they are capable of doing that.”

Exeter show four changes up-front from the Montpellier game and one behind the scrum. Props Carl Rimmer and Harry Williams both start, in addition to lock Ollie Atkins and back-row forward Sam Simmonds, plus wing James Short.

Wing Denny Solomona, who was named in head coach Eddie Jones’ England squad for the autumn Tests on Thursday, starts in a Sale side skippered by full-back Will Addison. Elsewhere, James O’Connor and Faf de Klerk continue their half-back partnership, while a powerful back-row features Jono Ross, Tom Curry and Josh Strauss.

Sale rugby director Steve Diamond said: “It will be a very difficult game as Exeter, together with Saracens, have been setting the pace consistently over the past two or three years.

“Exeter are a very good side, both home and away, and a reason they won the Premiership last season was because they are competent on the road as well as being excellent at home.

“We are good at home, but have struggled away, so it bodes well for a good game. They have got to have an off-night and we have to be at our best, I think.”

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