Aviva Premiership: Ali Hepher is looking for Exeter Chiefs to hit the ground running
Exeter Chiefs assistant coach Ali Hepher is looking to hit the ground running for the new Aviva Premiership season.
Last Updated: 12/06/13 1:36pm
The Chiefs report back for the start of pre-season next Wednesday (June 19) and Hepher insists plenty has been going on behind the scenes to push the club on.
In a strong conclusion to last season, the Sandy Park outfit lost just once in their final seven Premiership fixtures to finish sixth in the table and Helper is eyeing further improvement.
He said: "The guys pushed on. We always felt we were capable of doing that and it was a case of staying positive through some results that didn't go our way, even though the performances were good.
"We knew that eventually, if we continued performing at a high level, the results would follow and they certainly did at the end of the season.
"We're pleased with how we finished, but we've got a lot of hard work to do now in pre-season to get back up to that level and also knock ourselves on a stage."
The squad has already been bolstered with the recruitment of Cardiff Blues duo Tom James and Ceri Sweeney, Dave Lewis (Gloucester) and Fetu'u Vainikolo (Connacht).
As well as a strong pre-season programme of training, the Chiefs will also line-up in three warm-up games against Scarlets (away, August 17), Bristol (home, August 24) and Glasgow Warriors (home, August 31).
Hepher added: "We've refined the squad a little bit and brought in some really good guys. They're going to have to fight against some quality guys already here, so it makes for good competition in the squad and that can only drive the performance levels.
"The guys start on a clean sheet and they can attack the pre-season and earn the right to put on the shirt come the start of the year, then performance will dictate.
"It's pretty simple here - the guys who perform the best will get the shirts."
Regarding the pre-season programme, he added: "It doesn't really take long to kick-start again. A lot of preparation work went on before the end of last season.
"We're well prepared coming into pre-season, we've got a lot of work on our hands, we've got to get the group together very quickly and also kick our game on. It's a big time for us to improve as a squad and hit the season running."