In­nard en­joys op­por­tu­nity to demon­strate his abil­ity for Chiefs

Western Morning News - - Sport - BY STEVE GRACE

Jack In­nard has made it plain that Ex­eter Chiefs are tak­ing the Pre­mier­ship Rugby Cup very se­ri­ously, af­ter he played his part in last week­end’s 25-18 home vic­tory over Bath.

The 23-year-old hooker helped the Sandy Park side rise to the top of Pool One with a hard-earned win which fol­lowed a draw in their open­ing Cup fix­ture away to New­cas­tle Fal­cons.

The Corn­wall-born front row told the Chiefs’ of­fi­cial web­site: “We were slightly dis­ap­pointed with our form af­ter New­cas­tle. We felt like we let our­selves down, so to come back to a home crowd and put in a good per­for­mance against a strong Bath side felt pretty good.”

On a windy af­ter­noon at Sandy Park last Satur­day, the Chiefs saw off Bath with tries from James Short, Ol­lie Devoto and Tom O’Fla­herty plus points from the boots of Joe Sim­monds and Har­vey Skin­ner. The hosts were 12-8 ahead at half-time.

“It’s al­ways windy here at Sandy Park. We played into the wind in the first half so, we knew it was go­ing to be a tough ask,” In­nard added. “Fair play to Wil­helm [Van Der Sluys] – he made it eas­ier for me throw­ing it in and the for­wards did a good job help­ing me out in the line.”

In­nard is a prod­uct of the Chiefs’ Acad­emy and he knows that, while the Pre­mier­ship Rugby Cup is not the big­gest pri­or­ity for Eng­land’s top clubs, it does of­fer young play­ers an in­valu­able taste of se­nior rugby.

“This com­pe­ti­tion def­i­nitely is great ex­po­sure for any young­ster, and when the op­por­tu­ni­ties arise you’ve got to take them,” In­nard said. “The coaches aren’t afraid of pick­ing out the play­ers that are do­ing well in this com­pe­ti­tion. Sam [Sim­monds] is a great ex­am­ple of that, play­ing his way from the An­gloWelsh Cup [the Pre­mier­ship Rugby Cup’s pre­de­ces­sor] into the Pre­mier­ship team. It’s a great step­ping stone for any­one.”

The Chiefs won the An­glo-Welsh Cup back in March by beat­ing Bath at King­sholm and they want to lift this sea­son’s tro­phy. “No team has done it be­fore, so it’s def­i­nitely a real tar­get for us to go back-to-back,” In­nard added. “There’s a real hunger and drive, and you can re­ally tell that on the pitch.”

Ex­eter en­ter­tain Har­lequins at home to­mor­row (1pm) in the Pre­mier­ship Rugby Cup and In­nard wants to see the Chiefs main­tain their win­ning form in the com­pe­ti­tion.

“Har­lequins are al­ways a tough side, so we need to do our home­work and re­group,” the hooker de­clared.

“We’re at home two weeks in a row, and we’re go­ing to back our­selves to get wins two weeks in a row. Our eyes are on the five points.”

Jack In­nardSTEVE BOND/PPAUK

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