Exeter Chiefs boss Rob Baxter has made several changes to his starting XV for Sunday’s Champions Cup clash with Bordeaux-Bègles at Sandy Park.
Baxter has used this week to freshen up his options, both upfront and behind.
In the pack, Ben Moon, Tomas Francis, Jonny Hill, Dave Ewers and Dave Dennis all get starting roles, while behind Jack Maunder gets the nod at nine, Henry Slade is back from international duty with England, while Jack Nowell, fresh from a 50 minute run-out with the Exeter Braves on Monday night, also starts on the wing.
Currently bottom of Pool Five with just a solitary point, the Chiefs need to use the next fortnight – when they face UBB at home and away – to revive life back into their European aspirations.
Four successive victories in recent weeks – of which three were in the Premiership – have got Baxter’s side firing on all cylinders again and they will be hoping to maintain their winning formula against the visiting Frenchmen this weekend.
At the same time, Sunday’s visitors will no doubt be thinking that can throw a spanner into the works and further enhance their own European claims by emerging victorious in the West Country.
“In reality Bordeaux will probably look to target both games, and so they should,” said Baxter.
“Right now we are the defeated team in the pool, so in a lot of ways we should be the team that others look to target and try and collect maximum points against.
“What we need to do is flip that on its head and play well here at home. I want us to lay down a marker this week, then go to Bordeaux next week and try and double it up. We know it will be difficult, especially as they have a strong squad and they are going well in the Top 14, but that’s the kind of challenges we like here.
“This is why we work hard to be in the top six of the Premiership, we work hard because every game is a tough game and that is what makes it all so fantastic.”
Meanwhile, Bordeaux-Bègles boss Raphaël Ibanez has rung the changes to his run-on side that lost to Toulon in their Top 14 encounter on Sunday.
In all their are 11 alterations with five made in the back-line and six in the forwards. Jean-Marcellin Buttin comes in at full-back where he replaces Nans Ducuing, who shifts to the right wing in place of Adam-Ashley Cooper.
In midfield, Romain Lonca takes over from Jayden Spence while Ian Madigan and Baptiste Serin replace Simon Hickey and Julien Audy at fly-half and scrum-half respectively.
In the pack, Joe Edwards and Loann Goujon come in on the flanks in place of Hugh Chalmers, who is on the bench, and Luke Braid respectively. There’s a brand new secondrow with Berend Botha and Tom Palmer preferred to Cyril Cazeaux and Luke Jones.
The final change is in the front row where Ole Avei takes over from Clement Maynadier.
Form: Exeter Chiefs met Bordeaux-Bègles in the pool stages last season, winning at home and losing away, and went on to reach the quarter-finals for the first time. They are currently bottom of Pool Five after defeats to Clermont Auvergne and Ulster. UBB are seeking to close the gap on unbeaten leaders Clermont. They beat Ulster at home and scored five tries in a 49-33 defeat in Clermont to put them second in the pool table.
Exeter Chiefs: 15 Lachie Turner, 14 Jack Nowell, 13 Ollie Devoto, 12 Henry Slade, 11 James Short, 10 Gareth Steenson (c), 9 Jack Maunder, 8 Dave Dennis, 7 Don Armand, 6 Dave Ewers, 5 Jonny Hill, 4 Geoff Parling, 3 Tomas Francis, 2 Jack Yeandle, 1 Ben Moon
Replacements: 16 Shaun Malton, 17 Carl Rimmer, 18 Greg Holmes, 19 Ollie Atkins, 20 Kai Horstmann, 21 Will Chudley, 22 Sam Hill, 23 Michele Campagnaro
Bordeaux-Bègles: 15 Jean-Marcellin Buttin, 14 Nans Ducuing, 13 Romain Lonca, 12 Julien Rey, 11 Blair Connor, 10 Ian Madigan, 9 Baptiste Serin, 8 Marco Tauleigne, 7 Joe Edwards, 6 Loann Goujon, 5 Berend Botha, 4 Tom Palmer, 3 Marc Clerc, 2 Ole Avei, 1 Steven Kitshoff
Replacements: 16 Clement Maynadier, 17 Sébastien Taofifenua, 18 Jean-Baptiste Poux, 19 Luke Jones, 20 Hugh Chalmers, 21 Yann Lesgourgues, 22 Lionel Beauxis, 23 Jean-Baptiste Dubié
Date: Sunday, December 11
Venue: Sandy Park
Kick-off: 17:30 GMT
Referee: Nigel Owens (Wales)
Assistant Referees: Gwyn Morris (Wales), Robert Price (Wales)
TMO: Tim Hayes (Wales)