Exeter director of rugby Rob Baxter put the debate over Saracens’ salary cap controversy to his players this week in an effort to ‘clear the decks’ before this weekend’s Premiership action.

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Saracens were docked 35 points and fined more than £5million after being found guilty by Premiership Rugby of over-spending on players’ wages but both penalties were suspended pending the outcome of an appeal.

That means the saga will rumble on into 2020 and Baxter, whose side lost the last two Premiership finals to Saracens, is keen for his players to move on and put their focus on the field, starting with Sunday’s home game against Bristol.

“We’ve actually just cleared the decks a little bit in our meeting,” said Baxter. “I just sat in front of all the players and said ‘what do you think of all this salary cap stuff?’

“At first, they all looked at me a bit strangely but I know they’ve all been talking about it and I know they will all feel differently about it all.

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“Across the board, there are all kinds of emotions, but what I’ve said to them all is ‘let’s make sure we clarify what we are all about’.

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“We are a club that have an important Premiership game this Sunday. We’ve worked very hard to be here and this is what should occupy all of our energy.”

Exeter are boosted by the return of England’s World Cup players Henry Slade, Luke Cowan-Dickie and Jack Nowell while Bristol will give scrum-half Harry Randall his first Premiership start of the season.

New Zealand back-rower Jordan Taufua will make his Leicester debut in Sunday’s visit to London Irish.

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Taufua arrived in the country last week after ending his season in New Zealand with a Mitre10 Cup to go with his Super Rugby title win and goes straight into the Tigers line-up.

Leicester coach Geordan Murphy said: “Like Tomas Lavanini last week, sometimes the best way to integrate a player is to get them into a match situation.

“Jordan is an experienced player, he’s a winner and we want him involved as quickly as we can.”

Murphy says the Tigers’ six England players who have returned from the World Cup have not been considered for selection this week.

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