Chiefs name Sevens squad
By Mark Stevens
Exeter Chiefs coach Ricky Pellow has challenged his young side to again lay down a marker when the club compete in Thursday night's JP Morgan Asset Management Premiership Rugby Sevens Series at Kingsholm.
The Chiefs have been paired in the same qualifying group as Bath, Gloucester and Worcester Warriors and will be looking to follow the lead of Saracens, London Irish, London Welsh and Sale Sharks who have already sealed their place at Finals Night, which takes place at Bath's Recreation Ground on August 3.
Now into its third year, the competition not only offers all 12 Aviva Premiership clubs the ideal opportunity to get some early game time under their belts, but at the same time showcase some of their up-and-coming stars of the future.
Last season Academy young guns Jack Nowell and Jack Arnott were both given that very chance by the Chiefs, who have included the duo in their 12-man squad for the trip to Gloucester.
Indeed, Pellow believes it is exposure from the Sevens and also that of the A League which has helped to develop a number of Exeter's up-and-coming youngsters in recent seasons.
"Take last year for example, Jack Arnott was in our squad at 17 and he went out and made a real impact," said Pellow. "I think in his first game he scored two tries and almost forced our hand into picking him for the next match.
"Jack Nowell was with us too and since then he's had a year training full-time with the first team squad, so we're looking to both of them to stand up again this time and be leaders within our group."
Alongside Arnott and Nowell will be the likes of Joel Conlon, Luke Treharne, Mike Pope and Aron Struminski - all of whom have previous experience of playing Sevens.
"Just like the first year when we came into the Premiership, it's another opportunity for us to lay down a marker again," added Pellow. "We have picked a young squad, but we also feel we have picked a squad that can be really competitive in this competition.
"As I said, both Jacks have played in the competition before, whilst Luke is in the Welsh Sevens squad and Mike Pope is a regular on the Sevens circuit. Looking at who we have, I do believe we have a core group of really good and exciting players."
Helping to bolster the ranks are the Blanchet brothers - Sam and Justin - Toby Bain, Connor Hartley, Rob Coote and Rob Beddard, all of whom have come through from the successful Exeter Univeristy rugby programme.
"I think we are better prepared than the two previous years," added Pellow. "In the past we've perhaps only had a couple of sessions to put a structure in place, but this group have been able to train and play together already and we've talked about patterns and style of play with them quite a bit.
"Looking at what we have in the squad, we have real game breakers in Luke and Mike, whilst Jack and Aron are quick, quick guys who know how to finish. In any sevens side if you have that kind of speed and finishing power, then it's going to be a massive asset to have in your side. We've then got some really good playermakers and boys who can carry the ball to play around them."