Slade targets strong finish
Having experienced life at the top table of European club rugby for the first time this season Exeter Chiefs are desperate to taste it again, but a strong Aviva Premiership finish is required according to fly-half Henry Slade.
The Chiefs finished fifth in last year's standings, securing an inaugural jaunt into the Heineken Cup in the process.
But despite failing to make it past a group that contained reigning champions Leinster, French giants Clermont Auvergne and Welsh region Scarlets, Slade insists it's imperative the Sandy Park outfit are in the hat again come next season.
Qualification is within their grasp. Rob Baxter's troops currently sit eighth in the Aviva Premiership table, but are just two points behind the prized sixth place - currently occupied by Bath Rugby.
And with three games left, starting with this Saturday's clash against London Irish (3pm), England Under-20s starlet Slade is under no illusions just how crucial the run-in is for the club.
"There are big rewards that come with finishing in the top six, we know that, it was great for the club to be in the Heineken Cup this year playing against such a high standard of opposition," he said. "The more you do that the more you improve as a side and as players, so it's important we try and continue that and do as well as we can.
"It's great to be in amongst the likes of Leinster and Clermont Auvergne, it was a really good experience for all of the players. There are some huge games coming up for us if we are to make it into the top six, and that's the ultimate aim. Each one is going to be a big test, we have to attack each game as it comes and try and get the right result in each of them."
Slade and the rest of his team-mates have enjoyed a rare week off since their last Aviva Premiership outing - the 24-18 victory over Worcester Warriors on March 30.
And while it has enabled the squad to recharge their batteries, Slade insists everyone is up for the final push.
"It's been an especially long season so it was nice to have the week off, see the family and recharge ahead of some big games," he added. "It's very much in our own hands still, with Irish to come this weekend then games against Wasps and Gloucester. We can't afford to focus too far ahead though, you can't predict results and be thinking we need this many points or that many points. We will take each game as it comes and hopefully we'll do enough."