Baxter relishing 'group of death'
Henieken Cup draw as good as it gets, says Exeter boss
Last Updated: 12/06/12 2:50pm
Exeter head coach Rob Baxter is relishing the chance of taking on European rugby's big guns in next year's Heineken Cup.
Exeter, who finished fifth in the Premiership last season after winning promotion to the top flight in 2010, also qualified for the Heineken Cup for the first time in their history.
Baxter and his men however, have something of a baptism of fire awaiting them on their first foray into Europe's blue riband competition, after being drawn in the so-called 'group of death'.
The Chiefs are joined in Pool Five by defending champions Leinster, semi-finalists Clermont Auvergne and Welsh giants Scarlets.
The draw appears to have given Exeter a mountain to climb if they are to reach the knockout stages, but Baxter says he wouldn't have wanted it any other way.
"It's probably about as good as we could have asked for really. We said when we qualified for the Heineken Cup that ideally we would like to draw the group of death and get some really big challenges... drawing Leinster, Clermont and Llanelli Scarlets is probably about as tough as we could have made it so we are looking forward to it. "
Rob Baxter Quotes of the week
"It's probably about as good as we could have asked for really," he said.
"We said when we qualified for the Heineken Cup that ideally we would like to draw the group of death and get some really big challenges.
"So drawing Leinster, Clermont and Llanelli Scarlets is probably about as tough as we could have made it so we are looking forward to it.
"In the couple of years we have been in the Amlin we have shown we kind of thrive in the European competition - we tend to play very well, particularly away from home.
"Obviously its going to be very difficult. You have got this year's finalists and this year's semi-finalists in there.
"And I think Llanelli Scarlets were probably the highest scoring team from last year, so it's obviously going to be difficult but when you get into the thick of it a lot of things can happen.
"We are a quite a competent side and we proved that by finishing fifth in the Premiership last year."
Asked what was the secret of Exeter's remarkable success, Baxter said it was important to always remember to enjoy yourself - a principle he intends to take with him into the Heineken Cup.
"We have got this far by keeping our feet on the ground and working hard and enjoying what we are doing," he said.
"We don't take ourselves too seriously but at the same time we work very hard at what we do.
"We understand that if you work hard to get in the Premiership you're going to have a lot of tough fixtures and if you work hard to get in the Heineken Cup you're going to have a lot of tough fixtures.
"You have to decide to face those challenges and to enjoy them and thrive on them, not get beaten down by them. And that's what we aim to do.
"It's a great privilege to be playing in the Premiership and playing in the Heineken Cup, and you have to appreciate that and get yourself out there and get yourself in the thick of it, experience every moment and relish every bit of it."