Baxter says mental attitude is the key ahead of Irish trip
HAVING bounced back from a heavy defeat to beat Wasps last weekend, Rob Baxter is keen to ensure his Exeter Chiefs players get their mental attitude right against London Irish this Saturday.
The head coach was quick to tell the players they had not become bad players overnight in the wake of their 38-11 loss at Northampton on the opening weekend of the Aviva Premiership campaign.
And he acted just as fast in reminding the players they had not become world beaters simply because they saw off Wasps 30-26 at home last time out.
Baxter knows the size of the challenge that awaits his side at the Madejski Stadium this weekend, a venue where Exeter have only won once in four attempts.
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He has a lot of respect for what Brian Smith is doing with the Exiles as he rebuilds the squad after a couple of seasons of poor results.
Baxter said: "It was great to get our season under way (against Wasps), get some points on the board and get off the bottom of the table, and the important thing now is to back that up.
"We have to back up the best bits of the performance by ramming them home for the second successive week.
"We're in nice position because there's a bit to work on but we still scored three tries against a very competitive Wasps side.
"After the Northampton game we were very quick to tell the players we'd not suddenly become a bad side, and now we've won a game of rugby, we haven't suddenly become a great team.
"I want to make sure that our attitude is not 'we've won a game of rugby, we can roll along now and everything's fine' because it's not.
"If we think we can roll into the London Irish game we'll put ourselves into a lot of problems.
"If we think we're on the move now and if we keep rolling the wins will keep coming, that definitely won't happen. We have to keep fighting and keep making things happen."
One area where Baxter would like to see his players improve this week is their killer instinct if they get into another position to push for a fourth try and a bonus point.
He felt there was a collective sigh of relief among his charges last weekend when they went 30-12 up against Wasps around the hour mark, before conceding two tries late on.
While Baxter has no issue with the way they reacted on Saturday, he hopes they will not rest on their laurels again in the future.
"I think as a team, our reaction when we scored our third try was relief that we'd probably opened up enough of a gap to seal the win," he said.
"I can understand that. The players are only human. As much as you don't want it to be like that and you'd like us to be driving forward and ramming that bonus point and not conceding any more points, that is something for us to work on and develop in the future.
"Our mentality when we've scored a third try and opened up a bit of space should not be 'well done lads' it should be 'what more is there left for us in this game'."
With the first win on the board, and no new injury worries to contend with, Baxter is expected to stick with an unchanged team this weekend.
He does have a few more options in his squad as powerful centre Sireli Naqelevuki returned to action on Monday evening in the second team game against Wasps, getting 30 minutes in the 69-12 success.
Summer signings Don Armand and Greg Bateman could be fit to feature in the next A League game away to Bath on September 30 as they recover from injuries.
However, full-back Luke Arscott is going to be out for a bit longer as he needed surgery to fix a broken finger and needs time for it to stabilise.
And England Saxons squad member Jack Nowell is set to be sidelined for several more weeks as the club's medical staff monitor his recovery from an on-going knee complaint.