Chudley relishing Falcons test

Will Chudley returns to former club Newcastle this weekend hopeful the Exeter Chiefs can kick-off 2018 with a bang. Picture: Getty Images

By Mark Stevens

Exeter scrum-half Will Chudley says Sunday’s Aviva Premiership showdown with Newcastle Falcons offer a “great challenge” to the table topping Chiefs.

In what is the first fixture of the New Year for the reigning champions, Chudley will be part of a Chiefs squad looking not only to kick-off 2018 with a bang, but ensure they maintain their impressive 10-point cushion at the summit.

Up against his former employers, the 29-year-old half-back knows better than most the threat posed by Dean Richards’ side, particularly on home soil.

Currently on a five-game winning streak and positioned nicely in fifth place, the Falcons are enjoying their best campaign for a number of years and Chudley knows they will provide stiff opposition for Rob Baxter’s side this weekend.

“They have been evolving for a number of years now and they are playing some great rugby,” he warned. “They are fifth in the table for a reason and they have massive threats all over the pitch.They also have a two-sided attack, so that’s really going to test our defence, but at the same time it’s a really great challenge for us.”

Just as the Falcons are in good form, so too are the Chiefs, whose last defeat in the Premiership came away to Leicester Tigers at the end of September. Since then, the Devonians have powered through several testing blocks of fixtures, the latest of which will finish this weekend in the North East.

“We knew this block of games either side of Christmas was going to be big for us,” added Chudley, who joined the Chiefs in the summer of 2012 after a year with the Falcons.

“So far we’ve done really well and we just want to keep the momentum going. Our performances have been good, but we’e got this last game before we head back into Europe, so it will be nice to finish it off with another win.”

Recent wins over both Northampton Saints and the Leicester Tigers have underlined Exeter’s impressive form of late and helping to be part and parcel of that success has been Chudley, who marked his first league start of the season at Northampton with a wonderful try.

“It’s always nice to score a try,” he joked. “It does help, however, that I’m behind a team that are going forward and getting good front foot ball. Our form has been really good of late, but that’s down to everyone working hard and having the right attitude I think that is what we are getting right, we are a hungry team, we’re training hard on the training paddock, and you’re seeing the results out on the pitch.”

Chiefs TV: Will Chudley looks ahead to Exeter's trip to Newcastle Falcons in the Aviva Premiership

Equally, competition for the coveted number nine jersey is helping Chudley to stay focused with rivals Nic White, Jack Maunder and Stuart Townsend all pushing hard for a starting spot themselves.

“It’s been like that all year,” he explained. “As scrum-halves we spend a lot of time together and we’re a close group. Whoever gets the shirt at the weekend, they get a pat on the back from the other guys and we wish them well. At the same time, we’re all pretty competitive guys as well and we all want that shirt. It’s healthy competition, which is driving up standards, but it’s also fairly light-hearted in terms of the rivalry.”

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