Baxter wants Chiefs to starve Wasps

Date published: April 6 2016

Exeter Chiefs head coach Rob Baxter does not want his side to back down when they face one of the best attacking lineups – Wasps – in their Champions Cup quarter-final debut on Saturday at the Ricoh Arena. 

Wasps have put their formidable attack to good use racking up big scores against defending champions Toulon (32-6), Leinster (51-10 and 33-6) and Bath (36-10).

Baxter has urged his men not to shy away from the challenge and to remained focussed what they have been working on in the weeks building up to this week's game.

"It's a bit like when you try and look at a magician too much – you actually get mesmerised in seeing all the threats that are there," Baxter told the Daily Mail

"You end up defending none of them and you end up not focusing on what you need to do yourselves as a team."

"The best way to nullify Wasps' attack isn't to defend it. 

"The best way is to attack it yourself, to have the ball."

The 45-year-old, who took charge of Chiefs in 2009, says that they will have to starve Saints from possesion if they stand any chance of progressing past the final eight.

"I think we have got to make sure we remember that. If we are attacking, they haven't got the ball, and that is a pretty good form of defence.

"That's the approach I want us to have. I don't want us to have an approach where we are scared of them, so all we are going to do is lump the ball back down to them and see if we can defend them from their half of the pitch, because that plays into their hands.

"We are going to have to be prepared to be a bit brave, and make sure we play. We've got dangerous players as well – you get the ball into Henry Slade's hands and Jack Nowell's hands – we've got boys who can be very dangerous."

Chiefs have however outscored Wasps on a previous occasion in the Premiership at the same venue in December last year.

Thomas Waldrom scored a hat-trick in the 41-27 victory, Chiefs outscored the hosts by six tries to three.

"I think we found a little bit of a chink in their armour that day with our driving game, but at the same time, people will look at the score now and it looks like a comfortable victory, but in the second-half the scores were tied up and we had to pull away again," he said.

"We are expecting it to be a tough game.

"They (Wasps) are a most dangerous team in various scenarios – kind of on the break, in counter-attack, tries out of nothing. 

"You can pin them down as a team a fair bit, then an individual can make something happen."

Despite having progressed this far for the first time in the Champions Cup, Baxter expects a huge effort from his charges.

"We are not actually looking at it as a one-off game, because I don't think that is actually the way we should approach these things,' he said.

"Now, we are in a position where we should be looking forward to and expecting to be involved in more of these games in the future."