Exeter boss Rob Baxter does not deny that the Saracens salary-cap saga could provide motivation for his players in Saturday’s Gallagher Premiership clash.
Saracens are currently second in the league, seven points above Exeter, during their first season back in English rugby’s top flight after being relegated last year and fined more than £5million for persistent salary cap breaches.
Exeter lost the 2018 and 2019 Premiership finals to Saracens at Twickenham and were among the fiercest critics of their behaviour.
The teams meet in a Premiership game this weekend for the first time since September 2020.
But, while Baxter does not dismiss the motivational element, he also believes the Premiership as a collective is moving on.
Asked if the Sandy Park encounter could be viewed as a grudge match, Baxter said: “It’s like anything in sport, you use anything you can.
“If some of the players are still feeling that’s an issue, then that’s great and they should use that as motivation.
I don't think as coaches any more you build up any particular game as the grudge match of the yearExeter rugby director Rob Baxter
“I don’t think by any means that is every player’s motivation. You have all got to find your own reasons. It will be exactly the same for Saracens.
“For us, for some players it will just be about collecting points and going on the way to having a really good season. For other guys, it might still feel a personal thing.
“I don’t think as coaches any more you build up any particular game as the grudge match of the year. It just doesn’t work like that.
“Saracens are above us in the league and we want to be further up the league than we are. There are lots of motivations for us to go out there and play well and we should be looking to use every one of them.”
Exeter could climb into the play-off zone if they topple Saracens and Baxter is well aware of the threat that they pose.
“It is a really big and exciting game,” he added. “You want to be involved in big fixtures – that’s what you want the games to be.
“Watching Saracens over any period of time, you know they are well organised, they are internally-driven, their focus on each other and as a team is very good, and within that they have got numerous good players.
“I don’t think anyone in the Premiership wasn’t expecting them to go well, and they have done that.”