VIDEO: Chris Whitehead backs Exeter Chiefs to sting Wasps
Exeter Chiefs hooker Chris Whitehead has promised a return to form for his side in their first home Premiership game of the season.
The Devon club made a disappointing start to their fourth top-flight campaign, losing 38-11 to Northampton Saints last weekend.
But while Franklin’s Gardens has frequently proven to be an unhappy hunting ground for Chiefs, Whitehead expects more against his old club Wasps at Sandy Park on Saturday.
He said: “We know we are due a good performance, we didn’t play particularly well against Glasgow at home in pre-season and we certainly didn’t play as well as we could have at Northampton.
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“It has been a really positive week. On Monday we analysed the mistakes after a heavy defeat against a very good, very well-drilled Northampton side.
“Everything is very positive now leading into a massive game, it is our first home game at Sandy Park and the boys are really excited to get their teeth stuck into it.
“Every time we play at Sandy Park, we have this mantra of trying to make it like a fortress and ensure that it is a difficult place for Premiership teams to try to come and play.
“The boys are really excited after a great training week and we are just hoping to put right a few wrongs from last week.”
While Chiefs were soundly beaten in Northampton, Wasps started their season with a narrow defeat to 2011-12 title holders Harlequins.
Whitehead said: “This week will be a physical battle, Wasps are a great outfit, they have a great back row and it will be a real physical encounter. Fingers crossed we get our workrate up and create opportunities to score some good tries.”
Whitehead said a return to Chiefs’ long-established principles will serve them well this weekend. “The things that disappointed us last week are the things that we normally take for granted – our workrate and our physicality. We almost just expected those elements to be there.
“It has been a long pre-season and the boys have been very excited for some Premiership rugby.
“It is very important to make your home fans happy and they are great here on match days – the better we play, the louder they get.”
Whitehead made just four appearances for Wasps in
2009-10 but spent a significant amount of his time with the club on loan at London Welsh. However, he is more concerned with proving a point to his current employers – with Jack Yeandle currently preferred at hooker – than worrying about Wasps’ perceptions of him.
He said: “I never really got many opportunities to play so I felt more of a London Welsh player than a Wasps player. That was a little bit disappointing but since I moved down here everything has been about Exeter Chiefs and it is a fantastic club to be a part of.
“Jack Yeandle has worked very hard to get that opportunity but I am desperate to get it back off him. While he is playing well and working hard, he deserves the shirt – that’s the way it works here and it is why we have such competition for places throughout the squad.”