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Tom Johnson wants to end French side's home dominance in Heineken Cup match

By Western Morning News  |  Posted: January 11, 2013

Tom Johnson

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Exeter Chiefs flanker Tom Johnson hopes a great week can become an exceptional one, with victory over Clermont Auvergne in the Heineken Cup tomorrow.

The 30-year old forward was named in England's senior squad this week and now hopes to make his Six Nations debut next month.

Johnson, who has won five England caps to date, said: "It is hugely exciting, I've never faced any of the Six Nations before and it is the premier competition in the northern hemisphere and something I've watched for as long as I can remember.

"There a lot of rugby fans who just watch the Six Nations. To be involved in the build-up to it and part of the squad is going to be great.

"I'm over the moon and it is definitely an aim of mine to be in and around that squad. To be named in it again is really pleasing."

Johnson understands his international success is built upon excellence for Exeter Chiefs – and he is determined to help the Devon club become the first side to beat Clermont at Stade Marcel Michelin in 54 games.

"I'm just trying to do my job for Exeter and do that to the best of my ability. That is what got me into the England squad," he said.

"It would be pretty tasty if we could win, we enjoy all of our wins and we would celebrate it accordingly. Going out to Clermont is going to be a different challenge, a big French side with a big unbeaten home record. It is something to look forward to and enjoy.

"The atmosphere is going to be really good. Some of the boys have already played over there and have said how good it was. I think we have got to try and enjoy it and use it."

Chiefs produced a spirited performance in the first meeting between the two sides at Sandy Park in October.

However, a difficult second half, with key decisions and injuries going against Exeter, contributed to a 46-12 defeat. Johnson said: "We knew that sticking with them for 50 minutes was not good enough last time and it won't be good enough this time.

"It would be really nice to go and try and upset them and do something about their home record. There is a big challenge there for us and a big bit of bait for us."

Johnson is one of a number in the Chiefs' squad due for contract talks, as plans for next season begin to take shape. The former Coventry, Reading and Chinnor player hopes to extend his stay at Sandy Park.

He said: "I've been an Exeter boy for pretty much six years now. This is where my rugby is and what has got me into England's Elite Player Squad, so it would be great to stay here, if possible."

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