Exeter's Baxter hopes to cap 'fantastic journey' with European glory

London (AFP) –


Exeter coach Rob Baxter says it is vital that his side do not let up as they seek to cap a "fantastic journey" by winning the European Champions Cup final against Racing 92.

The Chiefs, just 10 years since being promoted to the English Premiership, face Paris-based Racing in Bristol on Saturday, with both teams looking to win European club rugby union's premier tournament for the first time.

Victory would also maintain Exeter's hopes of a domestic and European double ahead of next week's Premiership final, although that match has been thrown into doubt by a coronavirus outbreak affecting opponents Wasps.

"It feels a fantastic journey and it has been great, but the important things are what we do every day, every week and every month," Baxter said.

"One of the biggest lessons I've learnt as we have gone along is that we don't want to sit here and talk about 'isn't it great that we have got to the final of the Champions Cup and we can go there and give it a go, and whatever happens it will be a brilliant season'. We have moved way beyond that.

"We are not running around with big smiles on our faces being silly because we have got to a European final for the first time. We are actually locking down into what it will take to win it."

England wing Jack Nowell is fit following a foot injury and starts in an Exeter team showing one change from their semi-final win over Toulouse, with flanker Jacques Vermeulen replacing the benched Sam Skinner.

Racing have made three changes to the side that knocked out reigning champions Saracens, with wing Louis Dupichot, centre Henry Chavancy and lock Bernard Le Roux all starting.

But there is no place for dashing wing Teddy Thomas in Racing's matchday 23.

Baxter added: "I am massively excited, but I am also massively nervous.... The day you don't get nervous and the day the coaches are not looking at each other and going 'what's going to happen today?' is probably the day we should pack it all up.

"What are you doing it for otherwise?

"It should be about challenging yourselves, trying to be a bit better than you have been before, and that is what makes it massively exciting for us as a club."