SUSIE Appleby will field a young and exciting squad in tomorrow's Allianz Cup clash with Sale Sharks at Sandy Park (3pm), writes Jack Lewis.
Following a three-week hiatus since their last outing, the Chiefs come into this fixture looking to continue their development, with several new players coming into the environment for the 2023/24 season.
Head coach Appleby was full of praise for the work being put in by her team, as they continue to gel together in this new look Exeter outfit.
“Training has been going really well. It’s such a new squad, with lots of additions, the girls are really excited and they want to learn, but obviously now we get to play which is what they’re all training for," she said.
The Chiefs, who are defending Allianz Cup champions, will be looking to improve on a difficult outing against Bristol Bears in the previous round, but Appleby and her coaches have always been very clear that this competition is an opportunity to blood new players and develop combinations ahead of the PWR league season kicking off against Leicester Tigers on November 18.
The squad to take on Sale Sharks reflects this balance of youth and experience, and Appleby is clearly excited about some of the players who will be getting their chance in an Exeter jersey.
“There is a new young fly-half playing for us this weekend who people won’t have seen before, Ellie Cunningham. She’s at university here and has been playing really well, so she’s getting her first run-out which is brilliant.
“Brooke (Bradley) is back, so she’ll guide Ellie from the shirt inside at nine which is great, and Linde Van Der Velden is back, having been away in New Zealand, so there are some familiar faces returning to the match-day 23.”
Appleby has always championed the implementation of a player development pathway in the South West, and we are seeing the results of that hard work reflected in the 23/24 squad.
“Dannielle Preece starts at 13 and is a product of the college system that we have down here and a good indication of where we want to go moving forward, so it’s going to be quite a young squad on the field, but a very vibrant and exciting one that will just get out there and give it a go.”
Elsewhere, the pack has a strong and experienced core. International duo Nichola Fryday and Harriet Millar-Mills continue their partnership in the second row, giving captain Poppy Leitch the opportunity to get around the park from the openside flanker position.
The Chiefs field a dangerous trio in the backfield, with former Liskeard-Looe player Merryn Doidge giving security and running prowess at full-back and the lightning quick Katie Buchanan and dynamic Eilidh Sinclair on either wing.
Exeter Chiefs: Merryn Doidge, Eilidh Sinclair, Danielle Preece, Sophie Langford, Katie Buchanan, Ellie Cunningham, Brooke Bradley, Panashe Muzambe, Cliodhna Moloney, Lizzie Hanlon, Nichola Fryday, Harriet Millar-Mills, Ebony Jefferies, Poppy Leitch, Naimh Orchard. Replacements: Alicia Print, Abby Middlebrooke, Hannah Sams, Linde Van der Velden, Felecity Powdrell, Olivia Ortiz, Sammie Harris, Emily Magee.