Exeter Chiefs call on supporters for big opening

Bryan Rennie is calling on the club’s fanatical supporters to raise the roof off Sandy Park as Exeter Chiefs prepare to kick-off their first-ever season in the Aviva Premiership this weekend.

Established top flight outfit Gloucester provide the initial test on Saturday for Rob Baxter’s side, who gained promotion out of the Championship back in May following their play-off final victory over Bristol.

It’s a moment those associated with the Chiefs have craved for a long time and Rennie and his team-mates are determined to ensure the Premiership’s newest additions look to make their mark.

With capacity at Sandy Park being raised to 10,744 this season, a sell-out crowd is expected at the weekend for the inaugural visit of the Cherry and Whites.

And as Rennie well knows from past experiences, the backing he and his colleagues will get when they take to the field is sure to lift the Chiefs another notch in their motivation.

“The crowd were fantastic throughout last season, really getting behind the boys and the boys really appreciate it,” said the 25-year-old back.

“It is a special atmosphere at Sandy Park, I think now with the extra stands it’s going to create an even better atmosphere and make it a very special place to play.”

It is a challenging opening day test for the Chiefs, but no one said life in the Premiership was going to be easy. Following Saturday’s clash the Chiefs will then face reigning champions Leicester Tigers (away), Newcastle Falcons (home) and then Harlequins (away).

Already the Exeter players have been given a taste of what to expect following testing pre-season encounters against Cardiff Blues, Cornish Pirates and, more recently, Llanelli Scarlets.

It’s been some pretty tough pre-season games, but that’s what we needed,” he said.

“We’ve got some of the best teams in England up in the first couple of games so we needed that, definitely. We’ve been looking forward to this for months; we’ve worked hard so hopefully we can reap the benefits. It’s a learning curve for us and hopefully we can learn quickly and put in good performances.”

With such fixtures on the calendar, it’s hardly surprising that the Chiefs squad are relishing the task ahead of them. The Scotland A international added: “We’re very excited, we can’t wait, especially to be kicking off at home

“It’s the first Premiership game at Sandy Park and the boys are raring to go and take the challenge head on. It’s a bit of a South West derby and it’s a good game to get under way with.

“It will be good to see where we stand against one of the better teams.”

Rennie himself warmed up for the new season by scoring one of Exeter’s two tries in their narrow 24-20 defeat to the Scarlets last Friday night.

“Once again he teamed up with former Gloucester player Mark Foster in a new-look centre pairing that Baxter has implemented in pre-season.

Commenting on the new midfield pairing, Rennie said: “We’re still feeling each other out, but it’s a good partnership and hopefully we can keep building on it. We’ve got a few new partnerships in the team but hopefully everyone can start gelling sooner rather than later.”

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