Former Cornish Pirates forward plays his part as Exeter Chiefs pick up crucial Premiership points
Carl Rimmer admitted he was pinching himself after making an excellent start to life with the Exeter Chiefs.
He could not have dreamed of a better full Aviva Premiership debut, after helping the Devon side beat Saracens 14-12 at Sandy Park last Sunday.
The 26-year-old, who was more renowned as a loose-head prop during his three-year spell with the Cornish Pirates before joining Exeter at the end of May, was named at tight-head against the 2011 top-flight champions, after injuries to Hoani Tui and Craig Mitchell.
However, Rimmer produced an excellent display, so much so that head coach Rob Baxter left him on the pitch for the full 80 minutes, even though he had the vastly experienced Chris Budgen waiting on the bench.
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Rimmer did not let anyone down, receiving several congratulatory pats on the back from his team-mates during the contest, and he must have run full-back Luke Arscott very close for the latter's well-deserved man-of-the-match award.
"I came to the club wanting to get involved and happy to wait my time for a chance, because there are some big-name players at the club," said Rimmer.
"My first Premiership start has come as a result of a couple of injuries, which is lucky for me but unlucky for those guys, but I am happy to get in there and take a chance and I really enjoyed it.
"There is no easy side to warm into the Premiership with, is there? But it was great to get the result at the end.
"Those injured players will be back at some point, and I am going to have to work as hard as ever to keep my place, but I am just glad one game is out of the way now, and I can move on to the next one."
It was an absorbing war of attrition against the fourth-place Sarries in a match played in wet and miserable conditions.
"It was a really, really good shift by the boys, especially given the weather," said the former Coventry forward.
"The forecast didn't disappoint. It was exactly as we thought it would be.
"We didn't so much train for it. We wanted to get the ball moving – it wasn't just about battering them up front.
"We made a real thing about personal battles in the lead-up to the game, and said it had to be that one-on-one contest and that personal edge, putting tackles in and big carries and stuff like that, and that's what we did and it ended up proving the difference.
"That is not to disrespect the Saracens boys in any way, they came at us hard and right at the end the result could have gone either way."
The mood in the dressing room after the game was in stark contrast to seven days before, when Rimmer experienced his first taste of Premiership rugby as a 45th-minute replacement for the injured Mitchell in the shock 25-24 defeat at London Welsh.
"There was a huge change in the dressing room atmosphere," he explained. "Rob had said all week about not panicking and just addressing the issues that came up in the Welsh game.
"Every week is a challenge, we took both the Welsh and Saracens matches just as seriously, but the little things went our way against Saracens, we stuck to our game-plan, and it came good in the end."
Rimmer conceded it had been quite tough mentally to look at an amazingly difficult run of five fixtures – which started with Saracens and will continue with matches against Leicester, Harlequins, Leinster and Clermont Auvergne – after having suffered a loss to the Premiership's newcomers.
"Someone said to me during the week that Saracens were not a bad side to be making my full Premiership debut against, but I said to them that you could pick any team from the next month and they were all huge names," he said.
"It wouldn't have been a nice place to be if the result against Saracens had not gone our way, but it did, so we can now come in for training this week with a more positive mindset and look towards the trip to Leicester on Saturday.
"Every week we are coming up against big teams full of international players, and it is a big challenge, especially for us, but we will approach the game the same as we always do, and do all of our analysis and our training, and it will come down to the personal battles and grafting until the end of the match."
The Chiefs' James Hanks has been summoned to attend a Rugby Football Union disciplinary hearing, after being cited following last Sunday's game against Saracens.
Hanks has been charged with allegedly "making contact with the eye or eye area of an opponent", Steve Borthwick, in a report by RFU citing officer Budge Pountney. The case will be heard in Bristol tonight (6.30pm).
Exeter Braves thrashed London Welsh second XV 54-3 in last night's Aviva Premiership A League fixture at Sandy Park.
Former Australia captain Dean Mumm made his first appearance for the Devon side in the one-sided contest, while hooker Neil Clark continued his comeback from a shoulder injury.
The Braves' try scorers were Dave Ewers (two), Mark Foster, Clark, Aron Struminski, Luke Cowan-Dickie and Henry Slade, who also added 14 points with the boot. Former Exeter player Ryan Davis kicked the visitors' sole points of the night with a first-half penalty.
Former Brixham player Guy Armitage has cut short his spell in France with Toulon to rejoin London Irish as emergency midfield cover. The Exiles have lost Joe Ansbro to a broken neck while the arrival of new signing Setaimata Sa has been delayed, leaving them short of centres.
France will host both the 2014 Heineken and Amlin Challenge Cup finals, tournament organisers ERC announced yesterday.
The venues and precise dates for both games have yet to be confirmed, but they will be played on the weekend of May 23-25, 2014.