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Hogg mercilessly roasted at Chiefs

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Stuart Hogg mercilessly roasted on first day of training at Sandy Park

Stuart Hogg’s new Exeter Chiefs teammates didn’t take long to get into the Scotsman on his first day at Sandy Park.

Rob Baxter will thrust the Scottish international straight into the fray for his new club at The Rec, less than two weeks after he arrived in Devon from his exertions with the national side at the Rugby World Cup in Japan.

“It’s been a hectic week, lots of learning on the job. I know I’m being chucked in at the deep end, but I wouldn’t have it any other way. What I’ve got to make sure of is that I’m up to speed with things as best I can, that I know my stuff, and that I hit the ground running as best I can.”

Already Hogg’s new team-mates have been busy helping the former Glasgow Warriors star to get used to the inner workings of the Chiefs, having missed the pre-season build-up whilst on international duty.

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However, that also has not stopped them giving the newcomer a somewhat amusing welcome on his arrival in the Westcountry. Hogg was greeted on his first day at Sandy Park with his changing perch decorated with an array of well-placed Japanese flags following Scotland’s exit out of the World Cup to the host nation.

“I wouldn’t have expected anything else,” he joked. “I’ve been around long enough to see boys come and go from different clubs, so it’s good to be here and the boys have welcomed me with open arms.”

But as Hogg rightly points out, his main focus is on producing for the Chiefs, starting with tomorrow night’s game.

Having watched on from the sidelines as last season’s beaten Premiership finalists kicked off their season with a hard-fought win over Harlequins, the 27-year-old is one of five changes Baxter has made to his starting XV for this Round Two encounter.

Hogg will start at full-back for the Chiefs, who have also added Sam Hill and Alex Cuthbert to a new-look back division, while up front Ben Moon and Dave Ewers are also handed first starts of the season. On the bench, there is a welcome return for scrum-half Stuart Townsend, who has been out of action since last December with a knee injury.

For Hogg, though, the chance to showcase his proven talents in the Premiership is something he has craved since signing on the dotted line with the Chiefs.

“I’m a bit of a student of the game, I tend to watch a lot of rugby,” he said. “I know what the Premiership is all about, but I also know experiencing it for myself will be totally different. Just in training this week, you can see the intensity and the speed is right up there.

“Bath, this week, will be a tough game. They are at home for the first time and they’ll be coming for us, especially after losing last week. What we have to do is make sure we concentrate on ourselves, get the details spot on, and look to come away with a good win.”

Although content with victory in their seasonal opener against Harlequins a week ago, Hogg admits he was impressed by the way in which the Chiefs coaches and players questioned certain aspects of their play in the aftermath.

“It was a good start – and it was good for me and the family to experience Sandy Park for the first time – it’s an incredible place,” continued the two-time British & Irish Lion. “As I said, though, it’s exciting times and I’m here to help out and hopefully win trophies with the club.

“Being in the changing rooms afterwards and to hear what the boys had to say on that victory, the boys were pretty disappointed with certain aspects of the game which, for me, is an exciting thing that we can get even better. Already the boys have been working hard these last couple of days to put things right, so we’re looking forward to hitting the ground running on Friday night.”

– Exeter Chiefs

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Stuart Hogg mercilessly roasted on first day of training at Sandy Park