Baxter unfazed by artificial pitch awaiting Exe in capital
ROB Baxter is not making a big deal about the fact Exeter Chiefs' game away against Saracens will be played on an artificial surface this weekend.
The Londoners opened their new home at Allianz Park in Hendon with a 19-11 win against Cardiff in the LV= Cup three weeks ago.
Chiefs head coach Baxter has not only had reports back from Cardiff about the pitch but several members of staff – including injured prop Brett Sturgess – went on a fact-finding mission to the North West London venue a few weeks ago.
And Baxter is determined his side will prepare in exactly the same manner for this match as they seek a first win in the league since December 1.
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Baxter said: "A few of the staff went up including Brett Sturgess, who went up with a few pairs of boots to have a bit of a run around and see what he thought we needed for scrummaging and different things.
"We've had a good look at it (the pitch) and we're going to have a team run on it on Friday, which is something Saracens have made available to clubs.
"The reports we've had back from Cardiff are that it was a good surface and there weren't too many issues so we'll crack on as normal.
"We'll look forward to going to Saracens, who are a good side, but who we've tended to play pretty well against. We'll look forward to getting stuck into one of the top Premiership sides again."
With the Six Nations taking a break this weekend, Exeter will have Craig Mitchell available for selection.
And while England are wrapping most of their starting line-up in cotton wool, they have released Saracens prop Mako Vunipola so that he can get some more game time this weekend.
Even with the likes of Owen Farrell and Alex Goode not available, Baxter is still expecting a tough challenge from Mark McCall's side.
"They have some very good players away with England but they're also one of the strongest squads in the country," he said.
"At home, in their first Premiership game in their new stadium, it's going to be an interesting and tough game for us but that's what the Premiership is about.
"We had some tough moments at Sale and this weekend is going to be tough for different reasons. We've got to get on with it, shake ourselves down and work on the little bits and pieces that make us better every time we get on the pitch."
Baxter has a few selection decisions to make after last weekend's disappointing defeat at Sale, including whether to start with Haydn Thomas at scrum-half now that he is fully fit.