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Tom Johnson: Victories for England and Chiefs round off a great weekend of rugby

By Western Morning News  |  Posted: February 06, 2013

Ignacio Mieres is tackled by Northampton's Ben Foden in Exeter Chiefs' win last weekend picture: Mat Mingo/Pinnacle

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It's always a good week when you win – even better when both your club and country pull it off on the same day.

It was great to see the England boys really back themselves up after the win over New Zealand in the autumn. People were wondering whether that win was a one-off, so hopefully the Six Nations will go on to prove it wasn't.

It's not that Scotland played badly, I just think England kept applying the pressure and it told.

Before that, the Wales and Ireland game was an absolute belter, which means England in Dublin this weekend is a big game – but they all are..

And as far as Chiefs are concerned it was a very good weekend at Sandy Park as well – not just in getting one over Northampton, the performance was there as well.

Against both Leinster and Bath in our previous two games, you would have to say the performance was there, we just didn't convert the opportunities we created.

But the coaches didn't hit any panic buttons, largely because when you look through the games we haven't been playing poorly.

Then at the weekend, against a good Northampton team, the boys scored a number of those same opportunities.

Because of that win, and because of the way the boys have played for the past couple of weeks, there will be some who will force their way into recognition for this Friday night at Sale in the Premiership.

Rob Baxter normally rewards good performances, so there is always an incentive to play well in that sense. And I think it's important to have some of those guys who got the experience of winning around the place.

The club is always a happier place to be when we've won. The boys like winning and the coaches are always a lot happier as well, obviously. And if they are in a good mood, so are the players.

We train hard all week, and the coaches do the same. They put in some huge hours, so it's very rewarding for them when we win. Just to see us playing good rugby, after they have coached us, must be gratifying.

Losses are hard to swallow, nobody likes losing, but you have to get on with it, dust yourself down and move on. And we seem to move on quite quickly at Exeter.

We have come so far in our three seasons in the Premiership but we look to improve by setting ourselves quite high standards.

It's part of the culture at the club and I think Rob will keep drip-feeding in the staff and players he wants to keep things working. I've been here six years and the culture hasn't changed at all. The people in the backroom staff like Tony Walker and Chris Bentley, have been around for a while and that reminds us of who we are and where we've come from.

Where I am at the moment is mostly in the gym.

I'm two weeks into my rehab, having basically just finished my first five days in the gym, trying to get stronger and fitter.

At the moment I can only do the hand crank, basically a bike for your hands, and something called a ski-erg, which is a bit like a rowing machine turned on its head.

I can't do any running or go on the bike, so it's tough to get the old lungs opening up, but that's all I can do for the next couple of weeks.

To some people it could seem a little boring, but personally speaking, it feels like I've been on the legs for the past couple of years. It's quite nice to have a break.

Doing aerobic stuff just on your upper body, your muscles tend to fatigue before you get a chance to open up your lungs. When you run, your lungs take more of a pounding.

I'm not going to be out of the brace until week six, which is another four weeks. So at the moment I basically hobble around. I do look a bit more normal now, as the brace I have on now gives me more movement.

But the physios seem happy with me, and that's the main point.

We don't have a telly on in there, in case you were thinking it might be enjoyable. We're right underneath the stadium, in the dark pit, but at least we do have an iPod dock, to bang out some tunes.

There tends to be some heated debates on which album to listen to among me and my fellow gym prisoners.

Brett Sturgess is in there at the moment, and James Phillips has been in there for so long, he sort of rules the roost.

That's fair enough. I'm looking at around ten weeks myself, but he was saying to me the other day that this is his fifth month of rehab. Which is pretty brutal.

Hopefully we'll have the same sort of end date, so it would be nice to think we will be making our comebacks at the same time.

It seems a long way off at the moment.

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