Exeter Chiefs vs Ospreys LV= Cup preview

Having slipped to a disappointing defeat at Northampton Saints last time out, Exeter Chiefs are hoping a return to home surroundings will be key in getting their Anglo Welsh LV= Cup campaign off to a flying start.

The Ospreys, though, will have other ideas and they will arrive in Devon for the first time not only looking to inflict more misery on Rob Baxter’s side, but at the same time prolonging their own impressive start to the season, one which has seen them record six wins in six starts so far in the Rabodirect Pro12 division.

It’s certainly an impressive statistic and no one inside the Chiefs camp is underestimating the threat posed by Scott Johnson’s men. However, as Chiefs skills coach Ricky Pellow was quick to stress this week, it’s not a case of worrying all about the Ospreys this weekend, but instead making sure Exeter get back to doing what they do best.

“Even with their Welsh players missing, we know we have a massive physical challenge ahead of us,” said Pellow.

Exeter head coach Rob Baxter has decided to utilise his first team squad for the opening Cup clash. Just props Ben Moon and John Andress are retained for duty from those who took to the field at Franklin’s Gardens a week ago, whilst Irishman Gareth Steenson will skipper the side in the absence of Tom Hayes.

Despite the changes, however, it is a powerful Exeter line-up and includes first-ever starts for flanker Ben White and full-back Jack Nowell. For Pellow the inclusion of Academy youngster Nowell is particularly fitting, especially given his previous links with Truro College.

Nowell is one of a number of the club’s highly-rated youngsters who this season have been signed up on dual-registration forms with local Championship clubs Plymouth Albion and Cornish Pirates.

And Pellow believes it is the game time he is receiving with Albion, along with A games and full-time training at the Chiefs that is helping progress his rugby education.

“Saturday is a great opportunity for Jack and a few of the younger lads,” added Pellow.

“I know whenever we have spoken in the past about our A games, we’ve talked about the young guys coming through and how good they are getting. This year, though, they’ve moved up another level and getting games in both the Anglo Welsh LV= Cup and Amlin Cups is a real positive.

“So too is the link with both Plymouth and the Pirates. Both clubs have been very accommodating and the link is working great. Already you can see the benefits of those boys getting regular game time at a decent level – and it’s not just us who will benefit, but also both Plymouth and the Pirates.”

Tom Habberfield and Sam Lewis make their Ospreys debuts while Eli Walker, Scott Baldwin, Joe Rees, Richard Kelly and Morgan Allen will all make their first Ospreys starts

Lloyd Peers, Ben Thomas, Tom Grabham, Will Price and Ross Jones will all make their Ospreys debuts if they come off the bench.

Acting Head Coach, Steve Tandy, commented, “This is an exciting time for the Ospreys and a great opportunity for some of these young players to really show what they are about. As a coach, I’m also proud to have this chance to lead the team for two difficult fixtures that will really test this group.

“It will be a great benchmark to see where these boys are, Exeter are a strong team doing well in the Premiership and their fans always create a fantastic atmosphere so it’s going to be a tough evening.

“The boys have worked hard in training, they know their roles, now they have to pay attention to detail, be accurate and clinical, do things properly, and we’ll see how they cope with the challenges that Exeter will throw up.

“The Anglo Welsh LV= Cup is an important competition for us, it allows us to bring young players on. Look at the squad that played in this competition last season and you’ll see some of the boys who have established themselves, k

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