Champions Cup champions Exeter have made four changes to their Gallagher Premiership final starting XV following last Saturday’s European final win over Racing in Bristol.
Rob Baxter has a habit of tinkering with his winning XV from one week to the next to freshen things up and the English league final selection is no different as the Exeter boss has opted to make two changes to his starting pack and another two switches in the backs.
Sam Skinner comes in Jonny Gray at lock while Jannes Kirsten takes over from Jacques Vermeulen at openside. Behind the scrum, Ollie Devoto is in for Ian Whitten while Olly Woodburn nudges out Tom O’Flaherty. Gray, Vermeulen and Whitten all drop to the bench, but O’Flaherty misses out altogether.
Securing the European/Premiership double would be the stuff of dreams for Baxter and the Chiefs, but the Exeter boss is taking nothing for granted against Wasps who have been the form side in the Premiership since the mid-August restart, collecting more wins than anyone else.
“Of course you dream,” said Baxter. “We’re one game away from doing the double, but experience has taught me many times that dreams don’t count for much, it’s the hard work you put out on the field which makes it all happen. All we can do is hope and pray that the team make it happen on Saturday and that we win the final.
The Champions Cup final had its share of contentious issues and Simon Zebo ran his eye over them on this week's RugbyPass Offload show https://t.co/By9gKkZZMt
— RugbyPass (@RugbyPass) October 22, 2020
“It’s been a tough season for all of us, but we have got to the end and it’s great that the teams that finished one and two in the table, then came through the semi-finals, are now contesting the final.
“Wasps have been smouldering for a few weeks, sitting there waiting, preparing, getting themselves ready for what in every sense is the biggest game of the season. Yes, we had last week to contend with, but that is gone now and it’s this weekend which is the most important thing. That is what we have spoken to the players this week about.
“In every meeting, we have said to them we have got to make sure we hit the pitch and match Wasps in every area because we know they are going to bring physicality and an intensity that will be right up there. There is no point being in a final if you don’t match the intensity that the opposition brings.”
EXETER (vs Wasps, Saturday)
15 Stuart Hogg; 14 Jack Nowell, 13 Henry Slade, 12 Ollie Devoto, 11 Olly Woodburn; 10 Joe Simmonds (capt), 9 Jack Maunder; 1 Alec Hepburn, 2 Luke Cowan-Dickie, 3 Harry Williams, 4 Sam Skinner, 5 Jonny Hill, 6 Dave Ewers, 7 Jannes Kirsten, 8 Sam Simmonds. Reps: 16 Jack Yeandle, 17 Ben Moon, 18 Tomas Francis, 19 Jonny Gray, 20 Jacques Vermeulen, 21 Sam Hidalgo-Clyne, 22 Gareth Steenson, 23 Ian Whitten.
Another twist in the build-up to Exeter vs Wasps https://t.co/MaKolJTa5s
— RugbyPass (@RugbyPass) October 23, 2020
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