Steenson eager to take his big chance for Exeter Chiefs
Exeter Chiefs fly-half Gareth Steenson is eager to take his chance against Aviva Premiership champions Harlequins this weekend.
Steenson replaces Ignacio Mieres this weekend as one of a number of changes to the Chiefs' line-up following last weekend's defeat to Leicester Tigers.
Skipper Tom Hayes and James Scaysbrook – both of whom were due to feature in their 50th consecutive Premiership appearance for the Devon club – have both been given today off, as has fellow forward Chris Whitehead.
That means Australian international lock Dean Mumm makes his Chiefs debut alongside flanker Ben White and hooker Simon Alcott, who makes his first Premiership start of the season.
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Phil Dollman is given the nod ahead of Sireli Naqelevuki in the midfield. On the bench, Neil Clark appears for the first time this season, while Academy product Dave Ewers has also been called up following some notable performances for the Braves.
Former Cornish Pirate Steenson said: "It's a big game for us, especially after the game last weekend. We are just looking to get a good performance and hopefully a good crowd will come here for what should be a good game of rugby, especially with the way Harlequins have been playing."
However, Quins' excellent start to the season was tarnished with defeat to Saracens last weekend. Steenson hopes his side can protect their own unbeaten home record so far this season today.
He said: "They are going to be smarting after the result they got last weekend.
"We pride ourselves on how well we perform at home. So far we have come away with two good results at home so we want to keep that record going."
Undoubtedly, Steenson will have to play his part if Chiefs are to be successful. And with the club's first Heineken Cup fixtures approaching, there are even greater incentives for doing well.
He said: "You want to play as many games as possible but we live in a realistic world and the guys in each position are top-quality players. When you get your chance you just have to take it.
"There are big games coming up with the Heineken Cup around the corner but that is in the next couple of week and not this weekend – that's not something we are going to worry about now but it will be nice to build some momentum.
"We want to up our performances and there is nobody better to look up to than the champions really."
Harlequins' style of play is much admired by the Chiefs. Steenson said: "They play with a high-tempo game and play a good off-loading game as well. We've got to be on top of our game defensively but we've got a plan we have worked hard on all week and want to see how we perform with it.
"They are the champions at the end of the day and only lost by two points at home against a very good Saracens side. They went to the likes of Welford Road and got good results and play a good brand of rugby.
"If we play to our potential and put in a good strong performance we will be there or there abouts. We are at home so we expect to win."
Exeter Chiefs: Arscott; Whitten, Dollman, Shoemark, Jess; Steenson, Thomas; Sturgess, Alcott, Rimmer; Mumm, Hanks; Johnson, White, Baxter (capt). Replacements: Clark, Moon, Budgen, Muldowney, Ewers, Chudley, Mieres, Naqelevuki.