White keen to build on his recent good form at Quins
Exeter Chiefs back-row forward Ben White is the first to admit he has big boots to fill during a crucial phase of the Aviva Premiership season.
White is set to make his fifth start in six Exeter Chiefs games this weekend when the Devon side take on Harlequins at The Stoop.
His opportunity for a sustained run in the first team has come through the misfortune of England flanker Tom Johnson, who injured his knee against Leinster in the Heineken Cup in January.
White admits there is a certain amount of pressure in making up for the loss of one of the club's highest-profile players.
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He said: "The only thing that has changed for me lately is TJ getting injured. It has been bad for him but it gave me my chance and I think I have played well and taken my chance.
"I have just had to improve my all-round game a bit. I've carried a bit more and it has paid off. It is a great opportunity but there is a lot of pressure as well. TJ is such a great player and it is difficult to fill his boots. [Head coach] Rob Baxter has backed me by picking me and I hope I have paid him back and done well for the boys as well."
Even with Johnson temporarily out of the equation, White has plenty of competition for his first-team place. "We do have a lot of good boys," said White. "Dean Mumm can play six, Dave Ewers is an amazing player coming through and there is a lot of pressure to perform every week."
The pressure on Chiefs, as a whole squad, has reduced following their victory over London Welsh last weekend.
"It was very important for momentum," said White. "If we can carry that through and continuing playing like we did against London Welsh, we should be fine.
"The win was building up over the last few weeks. We were good against Sale the week before but just didn't finish our chances. Last weekend we did that well and if we can do that again in London, we should push them."
And White, who was a try-scorer when Chiefs beat league leaders Harlequins earlier in the season, says their approach should stay much the same this week.
"We don't approach things too much differently," he said. "Obviously, we know they are a better team than Welsh so the boys might be up for it personally, a little bit more. But you have to focus on every game in the Premiership because every game is a big one.
"To knock the top team off twice would be a terrific achievement for the club and it would put us in a good spot for the back end of the season. It would be a great morale boost for the squad."
A top-six or even top-four place in the table is still a fair goal for the eighth-placed Chiefs, says White.
"The ball is in our court and we have nothing to lose, we just want to win and put ourselves as high up the table as possible," he said. "We are not far off where we were last year. A good finish and we can push for the top six or top four again. That is our aim."