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Ulsterman Steenson fired up for Exeter's title defence

 

By Andrew Baldock

Exeter captain Gareth Steenson is relishing the "new challenge" of starting an Aviva Premiership season as defending champions.

The Chiefs' pulsating Premiership final victory over Wasps at Twickenham in May saw them complete a remarkable rise from English rugby's lower divisions to the sport's domestic peak.

But it all starts again in a fortnight, with Exeter launching their campaign against west country rivals Gloucester under the Friday night floodlights at Kingsholm.

Fly-half Steenson's extra-time penalty secured title glory for Exeter.

"It's a new experience for us," Ulsterman Steenson said. "We are probably not everyone's second favourite team any more, we are not the plucky underdog, which is a completely new thing. It's nice to come in and have a new challenge.

"We haven't performed that well in Europe, which is something we will definitely talk about.

"And we want to establish ourselves as a top-four Premiership team. There is so much potential in the squad to continue to fight on all fronts, and it is something we will really look forward to."

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