Christian Day: 'Heineken Cup experience will make Sandy Park harder to visit'
Northampton Saints forward Christian Day believes this season's Heineken Cup exploits will make Exeter Chiefs defensively more resilient.
But having won at Sandy Park already in 2013, the 29-year-old feels his side have the upper hand ahead of this weekend's final LV= Cup pool-stage clash – a game both sides need to win.
Day, returning after a long spell out injured, helped the Saints record a 26-7 victory over Gloucester last Saturday to maintain their spot at the top of Pool Four.
And having already ended the Chiefs' 100 per cent record at home in the Aviva Premiership at the start of January, Day is confident of qualifying for the semi-finals.
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"Exeter have a great home record and therefore it is one of the toughest places to go in the Aviva Premiership," said Day. "They have been using that to their advantage.
"We became the first team to beat them at home in the Aviva Premiership this season, which gives us a lot of confidence going back there in a game we need to win.
"They said themselves at the start of the competition that the Heineken Cup was a completely new thing for them and that they would look to learn from the experience.
"To be drawn against Leinster and Clermont Auvergne is possibly most clubs' worst nightmare but it could have shown them the standard needed in European rugby and they can bring that into other competitions and raise standards. I have no doubts Rob Baxter will have learned something and they will be looking to use that and move forward as a side.
"We always treat the LV= Cup with respect and we have shown that with reaching the final last year and winning it a few years before that. We want to make sure we qualify."
Admitting the road to recovery has been a lot to deal with, Day insists he is ready to return and help his side finish the season strongly – where a league play-off place is a must.
"I have gone through a long period of rehab, which is quite mind-numbing, but my ankle feels stronger and I have put on a few pounds in the gym so I am ready to get out there," said Day.
"We say at the start of the season, Northampton are a top-four team and we need to make sure that is the case again."
The LV= Cup. Watch the next generation break through. For tickets and info, visit www.lv.com/rugby