Baxter wants players to be desperate but not nervous
ROB Baxter hopes his Exeter Chiefs players are desperate to win for all the right reasons when they tackle a fired-up London Welsh this weekend.
The Sandy Park outfit have not won their last five Aviva Premiership games, with four defeats and a draw since beating Wasps on December 1.
But the head coach hopes his charges can put that out of their minds and just focus on doing what they have to do to get the better of relegation-threatened Welsh at home on Saturday.
Exeter have never gone five games without a win in the top flight before – twice losing four in succession – but Baxter hopes the players are not unduly nervous.
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"We should be eager and desperate to win because that's what you should be like every week," he told Echo Sport.
"Being desperate to win and that energy being channelled in the right way is very different to being desperate to win so that it makes you nervous in the wrong way, worried about making mistakes rather than going out there to win the game.
"Our big focus this week has been about being desperate because we want to win, not because we're scared of losing. We've always managed the players that way and it's important to re-affirm that because that's what suits us."
The Exiles go into Saturday's match in need of a win to boost their survival hopes in their first season in the Premiership.
Sunday's 26-25 defeat at home against Sale left them just three points ahead of the Sharks, who are rock bottom. London Irish are sandwiched between the pair.
Baxter thinks his players should be used to dealing with that scenario after playing sides battling against the drop or fighting to make the top four several times since winning promotion in 2010.
"It's not something that's ever been a problem for us before so I'm not fretting over it," he said. "We've been involved in a lot of big games in the Premiership against all different sides – sides that are fighting it out for the top four and sides fighting against relegation.
"It's something we've done before, we should be learning how to come through it, and nine times out of 10 how we've dealt with it is by playing through it and staying positive, talking about ourselves and focusing on ourselves.
"Whenever these situations come around you should sit down, take a deep breath and look at the reality rather than getting too concerned about one-off performances and little things that could be distractions when they shouldn't be."
Baxter has had a bit of good news this week on the injury front as he prepares to select his side.
Flanker Ben White missed the 31-11 loss against Saracens with an infected hand that was expected to keep him out for about a month. However, after having an operation, the Aussie could be in contention for Saturday's game.
Fellow back-rower Dave Ewers is fit again to play after pulling a hamstring against the Ospreys in November.
Luke Arscott had a scan on an ankle knock earlier this week but Simon Alcott (neck), James Hanks (pelvis) and Gonzalo Camacho (hamstring) are all still working their way back to full fitness.
And lock Aly Muldowney may not be risked again after only lasting eight minutes as a replacement last weekend as he aggravated an ankle problem.
Baxter said: "Structurally there's not too much wrong with his ankle but it seems that when he takes a knock it puts him out the game.
"It's happened a couple of times now so I think we've got to have a really good look at the situation and see what we want to do about it."