Intense Chiefs have sights set on Saints, says captain Mumm
Captain Dean Mumm says the intensity has gone up a notch in training this week as Exeter Chiefs prepare to start their Premiership campaign.
The Sandy Park outfit head to Northampton on Saturday and the Australian international expects a big test against the Saints.
Jim Mallinder's men reached the Premiership final last term, where they lost against Leicester, but Mumm is excited by the challenge his side face on the opening day.
"Northampton away is a really big test for us and for any side in the Premiership," he said. "It's been pretty obvious this week in training that everyone's aware the competition starts this weekend. The intensity's gone up and it had to, the quality of competition has undoubtedly increased as well."
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Although Exeter have never won at Franklin's Gardens, they do travel in the knowledge that they have won their opening match in all three of their seasons in the Premiership.
The last time the Chiefs lost the first game of a campaign was 2005 – which is also the last time Northampton were beaten on the opening day.
"It's particularly important to pick up some points early on in the competition just to ease the pressure on you as you go through," he said.
"Exeter's been lucky in recent years. They've always had some pretty tough games in the early part but they've always managed to get points. Particularly away from home, any points you can get are very important.
"We're going up to Northampton to get the win and then we'll think about Wasps [the following weekend] after that."
Mumm arrived at Sandy Park last September and helped the Chiefs finish sixth in the Premiership.
While he and his team-mates are looking to improve their game this time around, the former New South Wales Waratahs lock has stopped short of making any bold predictions about where they want to finish.
Instead he has followed head coach Rob Baxter's philosophy of focusing on the details that will help them get better, safe in the knowledge that should see be competitive.
"We're a club full of ambition. We're aiming for the top but we realise there's a lot of work to do from here before we get there," he said.
"We've got to focus on that as we go along. A more consistent season, picking up points whenever we can, is probably the way to look at it then the results side will take care of itself.
"We've spoken a bit about targets but we've spoken a lot more about processes than the actual outcome of the season.
"We'll focus on Northampton, target the first four or five games, and then we can reassess from there."
This season will not only be Mumm's first full term with the Chiefs but also his first as captain after taking over from fellow second-rower Tom Hayes.
The 6ft 5in forward is relishing the role but knows he has a job on his hands to follow where Hayes left off.
"It's a very big honour and not something I expected," Mumm said of the captaincy.
"It's been a couple of weeks now and I'm enjoying the opportunity at hand.
"It's such a good group of guys and the leadership group that's there already makes the job of being captain much easier. Tommy Hayes did a phenomenal job as captain so it's a big task for me to live up to that."