Exeter boss Rob Baxter defends weakened side in Bordeaux

Exeter Chiefs
Exeter's starting XV at Bordeaux had only started 18 first-team games between them

Exeter head coach Rob Baxter has defended his decision to play a weakened side against Bordeaux in the European Champions Cup.

Baxter made 13 changes to the team which beat Gloucester as they lost 34-27 to the French side.

"We couldn't have just rolled out the same team as last week," Baxter said.

"We've got to accept that and I didn't think the lads have let us down in any way other than the final score on the scoreboard," he told BBC Radio Devon.

Exeter have suffered a series of injuries to key players in the last couple of months, and with no LV= Cup this season there is little opportunity for the club to rest their regular starters or give fringe players a chance in the first team.

The loss means Exeter are all but eliminated from the Champions Cup, unless they can beat Ospreys with a bonus point and hope Clermont Auvergne lose at home to Bordeaux.

"I feel very comfortable with the decision," added Baxter.

"The season's a long season. We've got to use all these guys, we've got to help develop them, give them gave time, see which guys can step up, give other guys breaks when they need breaks and injured guys the chance to recover.

"I'm really proud of them because first and foremost they worked very hard for each other and tried as hard as they could to win the game.

"I can't fault any one of them for their individual commitment and that's the most important thing."

Exeter's major injuries
Henry Slade: England centre out for much of the season after breaking his leg against Wasps
Luke Cowan-Dickie: England hooker out since November after breaking his thumb
Dave Ewers: Highly-rated flanker has not played since the start of December after injuring his knee
Damian Welch: Ever-present second row out for "several months" after having surgery on a pectoral muscle injury in December
Mitch Lees: Second-row out for four months after surgery on a bicep injury
Jack Nowell: England winger out for a few weeks with a knee injury

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