Innard enjoys opportunity to demonstrate his ability for Chiefs
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