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Baxter: Chiefs facing whole new ball game

RICHARD BAXTER will achieve what he describes as "the pinnacle" of his career when Exeter make their Heineken Cup debut tomorrow.

The Chiefs could hardly face a tougher tournament baptism - holders Leinster away from home - but number eight Baxter believes it is a challenge Exeter must embrace.

"Isn't this what you want to be doing, playing for a successful club and in big games throughout the year?" he said. "To play in the Heineken Cup will be the pinnacle of my career, and to play in games like these is fantastic."

Leinster, bidding for a European title hat-trick this term, and French challengers Clermont Auvergne are expected to take the top two spots in Pool Five - only the winners are guaranteed qualification - but Exeter and Welsh challengers The Scarlets cannot be written off.

Exeter warmed up for Europe by scoring more than 40 points against English Premiership champions Harlequins last weekend, and Baxter added: "That was right up there among my greatest wins in an Exeter shirt.

"We had a bunch of guys out there who put in a massive effort and work-rate and did their jobs really well.

"The more you progress as a club, the more you have to use your squad to its full potential, and that game showed we have got guys who can step in and do a very good job."

And Baxter believes Exeter's players can step up another notch.

"Individually as players you want to be playing against the best teams and the best players in the world and pitting yourself against them, learning from them and trying to improve your game," he said.

"Leinster is the biggest team we've ever played. They're out there as the best team in Europe at the moment."