Exeter Chiefs announce side to face Leicester
Exeter Chiefs boss Rob Baxter has made two changes to his side to face Leicester on Saturday (5pm).
Having won 27-16 against Harlequins in their last game three weeks ago, Baxter has recalled fit-again forwards Hoani Tui and Dean Mumm.
Tui takes over from Alex Brown, who penned a new two-year deal this week, and Mumm replaces skipper Tom Hayes. Neither Brown or Hayes feature on the bench.
There are three more changes on the bench, including a first senior call-up for England under-20s fly-half Henry Slade.
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The 20-year-old has started three LV= Cup matches but takes over from Worcester-bound Ignacio Mieres following the conclusion of the Six Nations.
Hooker Chris Whitehead, who has not played since the 30-23 win against Wasps on December 1 because of a neck injury, and prop Brett Sturgess are also named on the bench.
Sturgess, who has just recovered from a broken arm, takes over from Ben Moon, while Neil Clark makes way for Whitehead's return.
And former Leicester player Whitehead knows this is the time of the season when the Chiefs have to push on if they want to climb into the top six.
“As a relatively young club in the Premiership, we look at the Leicesters and the Saracens and this is the time those top teams really kick on,” he said.
“We talk about being an ambitious club and the ambitious clubs are really starting to put the knuckle down now and try to get a top-four or top-six finish.
“We’ve learned an awful lot. I think it was this time last year that we played Northampton and that let us down a little bit because the game got away from us and that was a team really kicking on and desperate for a top-four finish.
“We’ve learned from those narrow defeats and here we are now with everything to play for. We’re in the best position, we’ve got a fantastic Leicester outfit coming to us. Fingers crossed their internationals are playing because we really seem to up our game when we’re playing the big games against Leicester, Saracens and Stade Français.”
Exeter Chiefs: Arscott; Nowell, Naqelevuki, Dollman, Jess; Steenson, Thomas; Rimmer, Yeandle, Tui, Mumm, Welch, White, Scaysbrook, Baxter. Reps: Whitehead, Sturgess, Mitchell, Hanks, Ewers, Chudley, Slade, Whitten