Back to basics approach for Chiefs

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Exeter Chiefs and England star Henry Slade says the Devonians have gone 'back to basics' during pre-season to help prep them for the new campaign ahead. Picture: Getty Images

By Mark Stevens

Henry Slade insists Exeter Chiefs have gone 'back to basics' after admitting complacency contributed to their downfall in last season's Gallagher Premiership final.

The Chiefs arrived at Twickenham in June as strong favourites to lift their third league crown only for Harlequins to defy expectations for the last time in an exhilarating season by emerging 40-38 winners.

Rob Baxter's side have appeared in the last six domestic finals, but 2017 and 2020 are their only successes and Slade revealed that the most recent setback has prompted a rethink.

"We've experienced enough finals to know how to come back from it and to come back stronger," Slade said. "It was frustrating and it still is, but we had a good summer and have used the feeling we had. We had a reset down at Chiefs and are looking forward to going one better this year.

"We have just gone back to what we pride ourselves on – expecting high standards of each other, working hard and getting back to the basics that you have to nail down.

"Maybe there was a sense of complacency. We have reached the last however many finals, but every time you get there, it's against a bloody good team."

To help them prepare for a season when the title will be even more ferociously contested due to Saracens' return to the top flight, Exeter have enlisted the help of the Royal Marines.

The 2020 double winners have spent time at The Commando Training Centre in Lympstone this summer to take them out of their comfort zone.

"We have had some swimming sessions at the marine base. We've been passing around rifles and trying to keep them above water, things like that," Slade said. "It's a proper deep pool – four or five metres deep – and they give us rifles and we have to tread water and keep the rifles above water.

"Then they will chuck one to the bottom and you have to go and pick that up and carry on – it is pretty tough. You have to keep it above water for a few minutes. It's not ideal, especially when some people in the group aren't good swimmers.

"Those boys in the marines are tough. We don't even do the things they do fully, so I can't imagine how hard their training is."

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