Planet Rugby

Preview: Exeter v Harlequins

08th November 2013 12:31

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Harlequins v Exeter Sireli Naqelevuki of Exeter is tackled by Jordan Turner Hall of Quins

Sireli Naqelevuki: Starts for Exeter

Exeter have rung the changes to their starting XV for Saturday's LV=Cup clash with defending champions Harlequins at Sandy Park.

The entire run-on side, which beat Sale 18-16 in a Premiership clash last weekend, has changed for this encounter and new signings Greg Bateman, Romana Graham, Don Armand and skipper Ceri Sweeney are all handed their maiden starts for the club.

There are also first appearances of the season for the likes of James Hanks, Will Chudley, Sireli Naqelevuki, Jack Arnott and last season's LV= Cup Breakthrough Player of the Year, Jack Nowell.

Even then the available talent does not stop as the home side also include Alex Brown, James Scaysbrook, Henry Slade and Luke Arscott from the outset.

Assistant forwards coach Rob Hunter, who alongside skills coach Ricky Pellow take command of the Chiefs for the next fortnight, is excited about the team's potential.

"Looking at our squad, we have got a real good mix, we've got some young lads in there who will be looking to cement their place in the first team, but we've also got some old boys back who have had some time out, so it's great to see them back out on the pitch and raring to go," he said.

"For these guys it's a case of following on from what we've been producing already this season.

"Last week at Sale was a tough night for us, they threw the kitchen sink at us in the second half, but we weathered that really well.

"As I said, we've been on a good run of games, but by no means are we the finished article. I think there is still lots more to come from this squad and this cup competition is the next stage for us in that respect."

With such options available, Hunter believes this group of players will be determined to prove their worth over the next two weeks, so that not only do the Chiefs position themselves nicely in terms of future qualification, but at the same time give the coaches plenty to ponder ahead of their return to Premiership action against Saracens later in the month.

"We managed to get through the first block of the season really well, this despite missing a few of the guys through injuries," added Hunter.

"Coming off the back of these next two weeks, we hope to have some real tough decisions to make.

"Certainly in the back five of the pack there is real strength, but I think Ricky and Ali are also going to have some real decisions to make when you look at the quality of the guys coming back into it."

Meanwhile, Harlequins flanker Luke Wallace, who led them to the trophy last season, will captain the team in this match.

A number of senior players have been rested to give some younger players and those returning from injury an opportunity.

Among the backs Charlie Walker moves to full-back with Paul Sackey returning from injury on the right wing. Sam Smith is named on the left wing with Tim Molenaar and Tom Casson in the centres. Casson makes his return following a five-week lay-off while Molenaar continues following his man of the match performance against Leicester at Welford Road last Saturday. Ben Botica and Karl Dickson are the half-backs.

The front row remains unchanged from last week and there is one change to the back row with Jack Clifford coming in for Tom Guest. In the second row George Merrick and Charlie Matthews replace Nick Easter and George Robson respectively.

Among the replacements James Chisholm, Sam Stuart and Louis Grimoldby are named for the first time this season with 18-year-old Chisholm ready to make his senior debut for the club.

Tom Guest and Matt Hopper offer some experience with Harry Allen, Darryl Marfo and Nic Mayhew again ready to make an impact.

The teams:

Exeter Chiefs:15 Luke Arscott, 14 Jack Nowell, 13 Sireli Naqelevuki, 12 Henry Slade, 11 Jack Arnott, 10 Ceri Sweeney (capt), 9 Will Chudley, 8 Kai Horstmann, 7 James Scaysbrook, 6 Don Armand, 5 James Hanks, 4 Romana Graham, 3 Alex Brown, 2 Greg Bateman, 1 Ben Moon.
Replacements: 16 Jack Innard, 17 Kieran Davies, 18 Carl Rimmer, 19 Will Carrick-Smith, 20 James Phillips, 21 Stu Townsend, 22 Tom Hendrickson, 23 Sam Blanchet

Harlequins: 15 Charlie Walker, 14 Paul Sackey, 13 Tim Molenaar, 12 Tom Casson, 11 Sam Smith, 10 Ben Botica, 9 Karl Dickson, 8 Jack Clifford, 7 Luke Wallace (capt), 6 Joe Trayfoot, 5 Charlie Matthews, 4 George Merrick, 3 Will Collier, 2 Dave Ward, 1 Mark Lambert.
Replacements: 16 Harry Allen, 17 Darryl Marfo, 18 Nic Mayhew, 19 James Chisholm, 20 Tom Guest, 21 Sam Stuart, 22 Louis Grimoldby, 23 Matt Hopper.

Date: Saturday, November 9
Kick-off: 15:00
Venue: Sandy Park
Referee: Dean Richards (England)
Assistant referees: Peter Huckle (England), Jonathan Healy (England)
Timekeeper: Laurie Bryant (England)
Assessor: Paul Bridgman (England)

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