Exeter success catches Lancaster's eye
Exeter's memorable season that has been highlighted by Heineken Cup qualification for the first time could soon receive recognition from Stuart Lancaster.
The new England head coach is currently identifying players for his 40-man squad that will head to South Africa later this month on a demanding three-Test tour. And the indications are that Exeter will be represented in Springbok country.
Lancaster met with Exeter head coach Rob Baxter at Sandy Park earlier this week when possible England squad members were discussed. Wing Matt Jess, hooker Chris Whitehead, lock James Hanks, plus flankers Tom Johnson and James Scaysbrook could all conceivably be on Lancaster's radar for a trip that also includes two midweek fixtures.
Exeter are nearing the end of only their second season as an Aviva Premiership club, but they can finish no lower than fifth and will secure a title play-off place if they beat Saracens on Saturday and Northampton come unstuck at home to Worcester.
"Personally, I'm not one for guys drifting away simply because it is the end of the season and that they are thinking about their holidays," Baxter said. "I know we have a proud group of players here, some of whom could be thinking about summer tours. There is a lot of motivation in something like that, and I know we have a few guys in with a shout.
"It would be a measure of how well the team has played and how individuals have gone as well if we were to get people selected. We've made no bones about it. We are very ambitious and we want to have international players playing for us.
"Any step we can take where the players can drive themselves into international recognition can only be good for them as players and for us as a team."
Baxter was encouraged by what Lancaster had to say, adding: "We spoke about several players and he (Lancaster) admitted that our position and our form in the Premiership demands that some of our players need to be looked at.
"But they have also got to show form week in, week out and probably over a longer period than one season. Stuart has started to become more aware of our players this season, but I think he needs to be a bit more aware.
"It's a 40-man squad going there, and I would like to think we will get a few people in it."