Chris Whitehead relishing return to Cole and Leicester
Despite playing with Dan Cole throughout age-group rugby, Exeter Chiefs hooker Chris Whitehead isn't expecting a warm welcome in the front row as the Devon outfit aim for a second upset in the space of a week.
Exeter shocked Saracens on Sunday when they battled to a 14-12 win in wet and windy conditions at Sandy Park - the first game in a run which sees the Chiefs side face the top-three teams last year's Aviva Premiership on the bounce.
And with a trip to Leicester Tigers next up on Saturday, and the clash played in front of live ESPN cameras, Exeter have a big chance to lay down an early-season marker against a team they did the double over last season.
Whitehead is a product of the Tigers' academy and learnt his trade alongside Cole in the front row although the match at Welford Road could be the first time the two face each other as the England prop missed last year's fixtures.
And 26-year-old hooker Whitehead admits, that given his history with Leicester and the quality of his opponent, his trip back to Welford Road is going to be that little bit more special.
"I have so much respect for Leicester and I am a big Tigers fan so I love playing at Welford Road but most of all it is a great opportunity to play against some serious talent," said Whithead.
"I still have friends there and I played a lot of age-group rugby with Dan so it is nice to go back. But we certainly don't speak ahead of the game."
"All I'll be thinking about is that it is a chance to give an England player a really hard time and stake a claim myself."
"We enjoy playing the big opponents and I think we raise our game because you feel that if you aren't on your game you can be on the end of a big defeat."
Exeter are having to combine their Aviva Premiership fixture list with a tilt at the Heineken Cup this season following their fifth-place finish in the league last year.
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