VIDEO: Tom Johnson concentrating on form for Exeter Chiefs
Tom Johnson will put club before country in his bid to regain his place in Exeter Chiefs’ starting line-up.
England flanker Johnson made his first Chiefs start since January during Saturday’s pre-season friendly against Bristol.
The 31-year-old injured his knee in Chiefs’ Heineken Cup clash with Leinster last season and is now keen to make up for lost time.
And although Johnson intends to regain his England senior squad place – after being demoted to the Saxons squad – matters at Sandy Park will have his full attention.
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He said: “It is a motivating factor, but I need to make sure I concentrate on my day job at Exeter to have an input there. That is all I’m concentrating on for the moment.
“The competition in our back-row is fierce. There were some great performances from the likes of Ben White and Dave Ewers, while the bench came on and did really well against Bristol.
“There is a lot of competition across the board here and I just need to work on earning a place in the squad here first.
“I’m just enjoying playing rugby, to be honest. We have a good bunch of boys here and we have had a good pre-season.
“I had three years without a proper pre-season under my belt and I have had that now, so I’m feeling quite fit and the physios have done a great job on me.”
Although the 51-7 win over Bristol was largely successful, Johnson believes there is room for improvement.
He said: “The boys turned up and played well, but there were some mistakes out there. As forwards, we need to up our game in the set-piece a little bit. But the intent to play, the enthusiasm and enjoyment was out there.
“The boys were really buzzing and it has been like that all week. That is pretty much all you can ask for.
“There are things we can tighten up and improve on, but we are quite happy with that performance against Bristol.”
The Devon club are likely to face a tougher test against Glasgow Warriors this weekend – Chiefs’ final pre-season game before the Premiership season starts at Northampton Saints on September 7.
“Glasgow are a first-class team, they are in the Heineken Cup – this will be a big game on Saturday for us,” said Johnson. “We expect them to play a bit more than Bristol did, so our defence will have to step up a gear.
“We were pretty solid all the way through, it was a shame to concede at the end against Bristol, but we know Glasgow will threaten us from all areas of the park.”