Rob Baxter admits Exeter Chiefs players are relishing a return to Premiership action at Sandy Park
Exeter Chiefs head coach Rob Baxter has been reminding his players what makes them such a formidable outfit at Sandy Park as they finally get back to Aviva Premiership action in front of their own fans against London Welsh tomorrow.
Chiefs have not played at home in the Premiership for seven weeks, since they lost their unbeaten league record in a 30-19 loss to Northampton Saints on January 5.
And after two away defeats in as many weeks, to Sale Sharks and Saracens, Baxter admitted confidence could have taken a knocking. But the thought of running out in front of the Sandy Park faithful again has given everyone at the club a lift.
"We've only lost one home game in the Premiership this season, so we're still a good side," said Baxter. "It just feels a little bit different because it's been a while since our last Premiership game here.
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"Sometimes you have to take a step back and look at the bigger picture. We've got to remember what's made that home record so solid, and produce that kind of performance."
Baxter was never going to do anything drastic following successive Premiership defeats, and so it has been this week in training.
Despite those disappointments, the one thing the coaching staff have not had to do is pick their players up – quite the opposite in fact. Baxter said: "I'm very aware that, as an example, some of our issues [in the loss] at Sale weren't from guys not bothered about winning.
"They were almost from a team that was so desperate to win that when a little bit of pressure came on in the second half we didn't react to it very well.
"It's not the worst quality to have as a team, to be desperate to win, and that's why we're relatively comfortable with the attitude of the squad. They work hard, train hard, and want to win games of rugby.
"They are hurting a little bit at the moment, but we have to channel that hurt the right way this weekend so we're in the right frame of mind and don't let pressure affect us in a negative way. We've not run around all week trying to change our game drastically. That's a recipe for disaster.
"What we've done is focused on all the core things that have made us a good side and led to some good victories."
If Chiefs are itching to get another win under their belts as they look to push back up the table, that would go double for tomorrow's opponents.
London Welsh currently sit in tenth position, just three points above bottom club Sale, to whom they lost by a single point at home last Sunday.
Baxter is aware of the threat they pose as they look to remain in the top flight, but is unwilling to focus too much on the opposition's plight.
"[Welsh] are desperate for points but so are we," he said. "We want to do well in the Premiership, we want to do well at home, so this is a very important game for us as well.
"They are certainly an 80-minute side, you can see that from all the performances they have put in. But we just need to focus on ourselves. We've got a great respect for London Welsh, but maybe now we have to step back and make this about ourselves.
"If there's one thing you could say about the past couple of weeks it's been that the games have been a little bit about the opposition.
"What we have to make sure is that we make this weekend about us."