WORCESTER Warriors head coach Jonathan Thomas insists the team are excited for the “big challenge” of the reigning European and Premiership champions Exeter Chiefs this weekend, as the Gallagher Premiership returns on Saturday at Sixways (3pm kick-off).

Thomas and his new assistant coach Mark Jones have had the last two weeks to prepare after the European fortnight was suspended.

Thomas says it’s been a positive break and the team have trained well, with a big focus on the maul, an area where Exeter have always been incredibly strong.

“There are a lot of areas where Exeter look to apply pressure, the maul being one of them,” he said

“It’s a part of our game we have been working on a lot.

“We’ve got a really clear system with what we’re trying to achieve there and the players are getting better.

“Me and Mark Irish (forwards coach) are passionate about that side of the game and were making sure the players are really clear on that are

“I think in all aspects of coaching, if you give players certainty and clarity, then it allows them to bring the intensity.”

The Chiefs do travel to Sixways as a slightly wounded animal, having lost their last two league games to Wasps and Bristol Bears but Thomas insist that does not change the quality of their side.

“This is a boring answer but we’ve focused on ourselves,” he added.

“The important thing for us is to get our game right.

“Exeter are obviously a quality team but there going to lose games at some point.

“I’m a big Liverpool fan so they are a good example of what the Chiefs are going through maybe.

“We were on fire last year but we’re going through a sticky patch at the moment and that happens to the best teams, just like Exeter.

“Whatever side comes out, it’ll be a big challenge but were looking forward to it.”

The game will be the first for Worcester since the defeat to Sale at the start of this month a result that left them second bottom in the league table.