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The former England and Lions centre, leaves Kingsholm a legend after over a decade's service, and in that time he has matured into a man

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Exeter selection 'largely based on players who are going to be here next season'

By Ian Cameron
Stuart Hogg /PA

Rob Baxter has selected an Exeter Chiefs team that is shorn of its departing superstars for their final Gallagher Premiership game of the season against London Irish.


The decision means that the likes of Stuart Hogg, Sam Simmonds, Joe Simmonds, Jack Nowell, Harry Williams, Luke Cowan-Dickie and Dave Ewers have all now played their final game for Exeter.

Jannes Kirsten is the only confirmed departee who will feature.

“The first meeting I had with the players, I filled them in with how we were going to select the team, just because we are going to make considerable changes for the weekend,” said Baxter. “I don’t mind saying, if we give selection away to London Irish nice and early, the team is going to be largely based on players who are going to be here next season.

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“I think that’s the right thing to do, but the first message I put out to the players was ‘right guys, nobody is being punished here’. My job is to look ahead and move forward. I know there are guys who want to play this weekend because they want to play their last game for the club in the last game of the season, but in some ways – and I know the game was a loss – that game last week was a pretty fitting way for some of those guys to finish their careers with us.

“Playing in a fantastic stadium in what was a huge game, that for me is a great way to finish. I think this is something that will probably get their heads around in the next day or two because they were very frustrated after the game. What they have to remember, however, is good teams lose semi-finals. Some incredible teams have lost in Heineken Cup semi-finals over many years. Two good teams advance and two good teams bow out, but you should that experience to move forward.

“If that game defines your career, it’s still a pretty big game to play in. If that’s your last game, it’s still a great occasion to be involved in. That’s what I will remind the guys of this week. Yes, this week will be full of emotion because we are losing quite a few boys who have been here for some time. Together they’ve been incredible men at this club and enjoyed some incredible times together. The flip side, however, is we have to make it exciting as well for the group who are here and staying.

“I’ve always been a big believer in saying it’s the men in the room that will make things happen. I actually said that to the lads before the La Rochelle game. I told them how we start that game, what we do here, is all about you as the men in the room. The stadium may be packed with French supporters, but what we do is about what we say and do in here. To be fair, we turned up, we got into the game and we were competitive for large parts of that game. At the end of the day, we weren’t quite good enough.


“Moving forward, though, I know we will be better for the experience. When you look back, especially some of those early years, we went to France and we got annihilated at times. Clermont that first time was scary, we faced Toulon in their pomp. Every one of those trips, however, was a learning experience and that is the stuff you look back on and you draw strength from.

“Not one of those games defined us as a club and not one thing now will define us. Guys will learn from it all and I know we will be much better for it in the future.”

15 Josh Hodge
14 Immanuel Feyi-Waboso
13 Henry Slade (capt)
12 Ollie Devoto
11 Tom Wyatt
10 Harvey Skinner
9 Stu Townsend
1 Alec Hepburn
2 Jack Innard
3 Josh Iosefa-Scott
4 Jannes Kirsten
5 Jack Dunne
6 Jacques Vermeulen
7 Christ Tshiunza
8 Greg Fisilau

16 Iestyn Harris
17 Billy Keast
18 Marcus Street
19 Mike Williams
20 Aidon Davis
21 Tom Cairns
22 Tom Hendrickson
23 Dan John



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