Baxter plays down Chiefs' top-four chances ahead of top-flight opener
Such has been Exeter Chiefs' rise in their three seasons in the Aviva Premiership that they are now being talked up in some circles as potential challengers for a place in the top four.
On the eve of their latest campaign in English rugby's top flight, head coach Rob Baxter is quick to quieten such talk.
As meticulous a planner as ever, he prefers to think about the small details of the game rather than where they could end up in the league table.
"What I want the players to be concentrating on is what they have to do now and how we want to develop the team that potentially means we move the club forward," he said.
Ask us for a quote for standard C Rated (Window Energy Rating) windows and we will upgrade your order to A Rated for FREE
Terms: Must quote Okehampton People website when arranging survey
Contact: 01837 510303
Valid until: Tuesday, December 31 2013
"If that means that down the line we push ourselves into the top four that'll be fantastic, but for me it's not about saying our only target is the top four or top half, it doesn't work like that.
"The way it works is you get what you deserve. We have to make sure we deserve to keep collecting points on a regular basis during the season.
"I haven't sat down and worked out how many points we need to possibly be in the top four. What's more important is how we move the side forward individually and collectively."
Exeter's 2013-14 campaign gets under way at Franklin's Gardens tomorrow as they travel to face Northampton.
The Chiefs have lost all four of their visits to the ground, including a 24-21 loss in the second game of last season.
However, the former club captain is excited by the chance to take on last season's losing finalists.
"It's a fantastic start for us – tough opposition who perform well at home," said Baxter.
"That's what you should want in the Premiership – a chance for the guys to show what they're made of against good quality opposition, in individual battles and collectively.
"We should be looking to make sure we take part in the game the way we want to. That's the battle – who can make it about themselves for the longest."
If they are to stand a chance of ending their Northampton jinx, the Chiefs will need to get back to the sort of form that saw them end last term with six wins from seven matches.
Baxter wants his players to be at ease with the way they want to attack the game this season by the time they arrive in the East Midlands.
"In the last six or seven games of last season we played with real ambition and a real desire to go out and score tries," he said. "We knew how to do it and we knew what we were doing.
"The Premiership is a good competition – we're not expecting any easy games – and we have to thrive on that.
"We have to look forward to it and play well as often as we can. That's something we should enjoy, not be worried by it."
Baxter will, however, be without a few players this weekend. The latest injury victim is full-back Luke Arscott, who broke a finger against Glasgow last weekend and is not expected to be fit. Phil Dollman should don the number 15 jersey instead.
Jack Nowell is being given time to fully recover from a knee tendon issue while James Hanks and Luke Cowan-Dickie are more long-term absentees.
New signings Romana Graham (calf), Don Armand (hamstring) and Greg Bateman (calf) will also miss out.
However, tight-head props Hoani Tui and Craig Mitchell – who both missed last weekend's final warm-up game – could be fit to feature.
Baxter has several decisions to make over his starting line-up after Matt Jess, Tom James, Tom Hayes and James Scaysbrook were among those to impress off the bench against Glasgow.