ROB Baxter’s ‘immense’ Exeter transformation will make the Chiefs a formidable proposition at Kingsholm tomorrow, warns Mike Tindall.
Impressed Gloucester player-backs coach Tindall hailed Exeter boss Baxter’s measured and methodical approach in guiding the Chiefs from the Championship to Premiership mainstays.
The 34-year-old Cherry and Whites centre said those traits run right through Baxter’s team – and will cause Gloucester trouble at Kingsholm tomorrow (kick-off 3pm).
Tindall starts against at outside centre for the Gloucester clash that marks the halfway point of the Premiership campaign.
Cherry and Whites rugby director Nigel Davies has made just three changes to the line-up that bested London Irish 47-3 in Amlin Challenge Cup action last weekend.
Nick Wood and Shaun Knight replace Dan Murphy and Rupert Harden in the front-row, with tighthead Harden not quite recovered from neck trouble.
Ben Morgan returns at number eight, to form a thunderous loose-forward partnership with Sione Kalamafoni and Akapusi Qera.
Gearing up for tomorrow’s onslaught, Tindall said Exeter’s composed rise to top-flight prominence still drives them even now.
He explained: “I think what Rob Baxter’s done has been immense.
“He created a system he wanted to use, ushered it in and then refined it.
“And then rather than bring in new players to fit that specific method, he spent time improving the skills of the club’s existing players.
“It’s paid off big-time and that’s huge credit to him.
“Because I would imagine it’s very tempting to go out and start trying to recruit players.
“Exeter have resisted that, and they have flourished as a result.
“It’s going to be one hell of a battle, but we’re pretty excited about that.”
The Chiefs are unbeaten in seven matches across all competitions now, and Gloucester boss Davies knows this clash will rank among the most difficult of the season.
He explained: “Exeter’s physical and hard-working approach is always very tough to combat.
“So we’ve got to match that as a starter, and then take things from there.
“If we don’t provide the right work-rate and attitude, then we won’t get anywhere tomorrow.”
GLOUCESTER: R Cook, C Sharples, M Tindall, B Twelvetrees, S Monahan, F Burns, J Cowan, N Wood, D Dawidiuk, S Knight, T Savage, J Hamilton (capt), S Kalamafoni, A Qera, B Morgan. Replacements: H Edmonds, D Murphy, D Chistolini, W James, M Cox, D Robson, T Molenaar, M Thomas.
EXETER CHIEFS: L Arscott, G Camacho, P Dollman, J Shoemark, M Jess, G Steenson, H Thomas, B Sturgess, S Alcott, H Tui, A Muldowney, J Hanks, D Mumm, J Scaysbrook (capt), R Baxter. Replacements: N Clark, B Moon, C Rimmer, T Hayes, B White, K Barrett, I Mieres, I Whitten.