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'The boys have given me a bit of stick because it looks like I celebrated as if we won the World Cup'

By PA

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Stuart Hogg hopes to complete a quickfire French double on Saturday and push Exeter closer to membership of an exclusive club. Barely a week after captaining Scotland to a first victory over France in Paris for 22 years, Hogg is back at the sharp end.

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This time it is a Heineken Champions Cup round of 16 appointment with Lyon at Sandy Park and Exeter are also guaranteed a home quarter-final versus Leinster if they win. Exeter were crowned European champions for the first time following a pulsating victory over Racing 92 in October.

Only four teams – Leicester, Leinster, Toulon and Saracens – have successfully defended the title since top-flight European knockout rugby began in 1995. “We achieved something extra special last year and we want to do the exact same this year,” Chiefs full-back Hogg said. 

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It all starts on Saturday. It’s not going to come easy. Every single team is going to be coming for us and we have got 80 minutes of rugby to perform to the best of our ability and give us every opportunity to progress in this tournament.

“It is one thing winning it, it’s another thing being able to back it up and go year on year. I truly believe we can and I am excited to be part of it.”

Hogg was quickly back into Exeter club mode after Scotland’s Guinness Six Nations heroics at Stade de France, which completed an impressive campaign that saw them claim away wins over Les Bleus and England. “The (Exeter) boys have given me a bit of stick because it looks like I celebrated as if we won the World Cup!” Hogg added.

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“It was an unbelievable weekend for us, something that we are incredibly proud about, and I’m looking forward now to getting stuck in with the Chiefs again. The game plan that we try and play week in, week out at Exeter is all about backing ourselves and playing with a huge amount of confidence.

“That is something I have tried to take back to the national side. In years gone by, we could quite easily sit back and take three points and be happy, whereas now the belief, ability in the camp and confidence to go after teams is really quite exciting.”

Exeter’s European Cup record against French opposition is a straight 50-50 split – ten wins and ten defeats – while Lyon have lost eleven of their 13 games in the competition. But they currently hold a top-six place in the French league and will not be daunted by tackling the holders away from home.

“Lyon are a quality side,” Hogg said. “They have got some world-class individuals and play really well as a team. We know where their strengths are and we know where the opportunities lie. The only pressure that is applied to us is through ourselves. We are very much looking forward to the challenge that is coming our way and we feel in a good place.”

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'The boys have given me a bit of stick because it looks like I celebrated as if we won the World Cup'

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