Exeter Chiefs Premiership pre-season well underway

 Exeter Chiefs coach Rob Hunter says that the excitement is already building in and around Sandy Park as the countdown to the new season edges ever closer for the Exeter Chiefs.

Several weeks into pre-season training, the Chiefs have been hard at work putting in the graft they hope will ensure they are again able to compete alongside the elite of not only the English game, but also that of Europe as well.

Hunter, who joined the Chiefs last term following a three-season stint as the head coach of the England Under-20s, has been playing a key role in the preparation plans and admits he likes what he sees from the current squad.

“Pre-season has been going great and the lads have really got stuck into everything we’ve asked of them,” said Hunter.

“That said, right across the land everybody will be saying the same thing right now. We are all top of the league and nobody has been dropped, but from a fitness and conditioning point of view, I don’t think you could ask for more from the lads.

“They’ve really been throwing themselves into it and working incredibly hard. The weather has been fantastic, which always helps, but the way they’ve approached it all has been great and we have to keep that momentum going. “

“All the time we look to get the little gains where we can, then we’ll get stuck into the games and start to build for what promises to be an exciting start to the season.”

With a trip to Hunter’s former club Northampton Saints first up for the Chiefs on September 7, the need to get the Exeter game plan and fitness up to full working order is something which is sure to dominate the thoughts of the Northumbrian-born coach over the coming weeks.

“Looking at those first few games, all of us can’t wait for them to get going because we want to see just where we are at in terms of everything,” said Hunter.

“When I came in towards the end of last season I had some input into various things, but now things are much different. In some ways last season was a bit of a honeymoon period for me, but now I’m settled in and right across the board we have a good balance within the management team. “

“We are all working closely with one another because we all understand what we are all trying to do and that’s a great help going into the new season.”

As well as the work on the training field and in the club gym, the Chiefs have also made use of the excellent facilities at nearby Exmouth Beach and Bicton College, whilst this Friday the squad will head for the University of St Mark and St John in Plymouth for more team building exercises.

The Chiefs assistant forwards coach says that gone are the days when players can completely switch off in the close season because of the demands of the modern-day game are so much more now.

“It’s a year round job for the guys these days, so they can’t afford to take too much time off else they’ll simply go backwards,” added Hunter.

“The majority of them continue to tick over in the off season, even if they are not at the club. All across the country there are guys grafting away and we’re no different here.”

“We’ll have the guys pull up at 6.30am for a pool session or they’ll be mauling down on the beach, all of which is to get them ready. As I said, they are all working bloody hard and we’re seeing really good results from each and every one of them.”

Among those who are safely entrenched into the Chiefs pre-season are the five Exeter players who helped lift the Junior World Championship just last month.

For Hunter, seeing so many of the country’s top young talent emerging victorious was hugely satisfying, but now he wants the Chiefs contingent in particular to push on and replicate the fine displays they showed in France.

“I was very proud of what the boys achieved in France,” explained Hunter.

“Not only was it great reward for what has been a lot of hard work behind the scenes, as well

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