Baxter ready for Leicester opener
Exeter Chiefs head coach Rob Baxter insists his side are not fazed by opening the Aviva Premiership season with a trip to Leicester, due to how well they acquitted themselves on their visit to Welford Road last term.
Thursday's announcement of the fixtures for the coming season has handed the West Country side one of the most daunting tasks in club rugby when they head to the east Midlands on Saturday, September 3.
The Chiefs suffered a battling 37-27 defeat last September and Baxter said: "Again it's another very exciting start to the season for us. Leicester is one of the most difficult places to go and get a result in the Premiership. Having said that, we went there in our very first away game last season and gave a real good account of ourselves."
He added: "It's a testing start for us, but we'll go up there on the back of three very good warm-up games and a solid pre-season behind us. We'll approach the new season as we did the last one, whereby we want to try and get something from every game we play."
Defending champions Saracens will face Wasps as part of the London Double Header at Twickenham, and new Wasps boss Dai Young, who was unveiled as their director of rugby today, admits the game is an early indication of the challenge he will face in the Premiership.
"A couple of easy fixtures to ease me in," he joked. "But there are no easy fixtures in the Premiership, the league is reknowned for that and pretty much any team can beat each other. It would be great to get a good start, but it's a long season."
Northampton director of rugby Jim Mallinder, meanwhile, hopes a home clash with Gloucester, the only Sunday game of the opening weekend, can help his side pick up momentum as they look to bounce back after seeing their chances of a Premiership and European double dashed by Leicester and Leinster in the space of just seven days in May.
"It's nice to start at home," Mallinder said. "The past two seasons have been good starts for us and provided vital momentum in the early stages. That said, Gloucester are a very good side who did the double over us last season, so we will need to hit the ground running in order to get off to the best possible start again."
The weekend's other games see newly-promoted Worcester face Sale Sharks at Sixways while Sir Ian McGeechan's first game in sole charge of Bath takes them north to face perennial strugglers Newcastle at Kingston Park.
London Irish and Amlin Challenge Cup winners Harlequins will kick off the season in the early game at Twickenham.