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'We've got internationals pretty much everywhere now' - Exeter's high-powered attack key as they chase a historic double to join the revered list of English clubs

By PA
Stuart Hogg and Jack Nowell. (Getty Images)

Exeter captain Joe Simmonds says there will be no let-up from the Chiefs as they continue their relentless pursuit of a domestic and European title double.

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Two months before his 24th birthday, fly-half Simmonds will lead Exeter into uncharted territory – a Heineken Champions Cup final appointment with Racing 92.

A week after that potential blockbuster in Bristol on October 17, the Chiefs could find themselves in a fifth successive Premiership final at Twickenham.

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The Rugby Pod give their Champions Cup predictions

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The Rugby Pod give their Champions Cup predictions

“We want to win every trophy we compete for,” said Simmonds, whose stunning solo try completed a semi-final masterclass as Exeter downed multiple European champions Toulouse 28-18.

“That is the great thing about this team, we are so passionate to win trophies.

“We’ve had a few hurts in the last couple of years, losing finals, but we showed with the performance out there that everyone is hungry. It was brilliant.

“We are really excited. We’ve never been in this position before, and it is a massive opportunity for not just the players, but the club and Exeter as a city as well.

“When it comes to it, we will be raring to go.”

Exeter were only promoted to the Premiership 10 years ago, and their staggering rise ranks among British rugby’s most spectacular success stories.

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And greatness beckons if they can land both major trophies, emulating the feats of Leicester, Wasps and Saracens during rugby union’s 25-year professional era.

“What was I doing 10 years ago? I think I watched one of the (Championship play-off) games here, and just probably looking up to people like ‘Steeno’ (his fellow Exeter fly-half Gareth Steenson),” Simmonds added.

“I loved the game, I loved watching rugby. To be here now is crazy.

“I saw a tweet saying there’s eight or 10 players in the (match-day) 23 that have come through the academy.

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“The way the coaches read the players is brilliant, and for me to captain such a great team is brilliant. I have so many leaders out there, it helps my job.

“We are looking only an hour-and-a-half up the road for the final. We’ve got to take it as a home game for us.

“We are really excited for it, but we’ve still got two Premiership games to go and the semi-final. We’ve just got to look forward and enjoy what we are doing.

“To have this opportunity to play in such big games, we will relish it.

“We’ve got internationals pretty much everywhere now. We identified the key threats Toulouse would bring, then it was about putting our game on them.

“We scored 28 points against a very good Toulouse team, so we feel we can score points against anyone.”

While Joe scored 13 of Exeter’s points, his older brother – England international back-row forward Sam – also claimed a try as they both once again underlined their priceless value to the Chiefs’ product.

“He does alright!” Joe said. “I wouldn’t say it to his face, but yeah he does well and he gets the team going forward.

“It’s nice having him in the team. We never really talk about it too much, but when we finish playing and look back it’s going to be a proud moment for both of us.

“For now though, we’ve got to just keep playing well week in, week out.”

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Shaylen 1 hours ago
Jack Willis' Champions Cup masterclass proves English eligibility rules need a rethink

If France, Wales, England, Scotland and Ireland got together and all changed their eligibility laws in the same way SA has it would be absolutely bonkers. All players from all nations involved in Europe would be fair game as would their coaches. The investment in rugby would be supercharged as teams would rush to create dream teams. Transfer markets would be super charged, salary caps may change, private investment would grow as rich backers first buy clubs and then put money into their clubs in an effort to land the best players. The richest clubs and franchises would benefit most but money and players would move across borders at a steady flow. Suddenly countries like Wales and Scotland would have a much larger pool of players to select from who would be developed and improved in systems belonging to their rivals within superstar squads while their clubs receive large sums in the transfer market. The Six Nations would experience a big boost as the best players become available all the time. The Champions cup would become even more fiercely contested as the dream teams clash. Fan engagement would grow as fans would follow their favourite players creating interest in the game across the continent. Transfer markets and windows would become interesting events in themselves, speculation would drive it and rumours of big transfers and interest in players would spread. All of this is speculation and much of it would not eventuate straight away but just like in football the spread of players and talent would create these conditions over time. The transfer markets in European football is proof of this. Football had the same club vs country debate eons ago and favoured an open system. This has made it the largest game in the world with global interest and big money. Rugby needs to embrace this approach in the long run as well

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Jon 8 hours ago
Waratahs 'counter-culture' limits Wallaby options for Joe Schmidt

This is a bit dramatic for me, I think the Rebels and Force cultures would be very strong, and if a player is chosen from either, you can be confident they are in a good head space and ready. Whether they quite have the technical or tactical foundations of the other two states is where one would way their risk of selection. I see no need for Schmidt to worry about that risk in this squad. The main reason I could see a predominance of players from Brumbies and Reds, is simple cohesion. What might the coaching group make of what’s lacking in the Tahs, and to a lesser extent Rebels and Force’s, franchise? Certainly sides (players) that are running irish plays like we saw from that lovely McDermott long ball with have a head start. I hope the players can continue it at International level. Really liked what I saw of Wright (don’t know player focus and just hadn’t seen a lot of him anyway) in that game, can see him being a glue in a Wallaby side too. A with the similar worry of selecting players like Ryan, I think it unfounded to worry so much about forward balance at the moment. Including both Wright and Skelton in the same lineout is not going to lose you games gainst Wales. Nor will any unknown weakenss Wales might find in Ryan be exploited to any great extent. It is the perfect time to introduce such a young player. What other shortcuts might Schmidt want to make now, just a year out from hosting BIL? When Gamble came on the scene I thought he had a Pocock ability to break game apart along with performing the role of a openside well. I would be very keen to drop Leota/Hooper for Gamble, and in your squad make up, include Uru as a lock. Did you forget to remove Vunivalu from your team? Would you have Meafou in your squad if you could?

114 Go to comments
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