Exeter Chiefs boss Rob Baxter ready for 'group of death'

By Brent PilnickBBC Sport

Exeter Chiefs boss Rob Baxter says his side will relish playing in what he calls a 'group of death' in their first ever Heineken Cup campaign.

"We said when we qualified that maybe we'd be in the group of death, and you can't say it's far off that," Baxter told BBC South West.

"But it's the kind of challenge that you hope brings the best out of you."

It is the first time in the club's history that they have qualified for Europe's top club competition as they prepare for just their third season in the Premiership.

Because of their lack of top-flight experience the Chiefs, who finished fifth in the Premiership last season, were placed in the bottom pool.

They will face the undisputed best club in Europe in Leinster after the Irish province claimed their third Heineken Cup title in four years in May when they crushed Ulster 42-14.

The task will not be much easier against last season's semi-finalists Clermont Auvergne, who have a phenomenal home record at Parc Michelin, and seasoned Heineken Cup campaigners Scarlets.

But Baxter says his side will relish their opportunity just as they have in the Premiership.

"They [his players] all seem very excited to me, they don't seem daunted by it at all.

"That's very much been our approach to the Premiership and that'll be our approach to the Heineken Cup as well.

"We've talked to our players about being ambitious and trying to drive the club forward, having ambitions as individuals and playing in the big games.

"Playing in the Heineken Cup is one step off playing international rugby and if you can thrive in this environment you can pretty much thrive in any environment."

The Chiefs have played in the Amlin Cup for the past two season, making the knockout stages for the first time when they lost to a late try in Paris to Stade Francais in the quarter-finals.

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