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Captain Hayes back for Chiefs

By Western Morning News  |  Posted: December 29, 2012

Tom Hayes. Photo: Pinnacle

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Exeter Chiefs skipper Tom Hayes has been restored to the starting line-up for their Aviva Premiership clash with Bath at Sandy Park this afternoon.

Hayes' return in the second row in place of James Hanks, while behind Phil Dollman – who missed last weekend's game because of illness – comes into the centre at the expense of Ian Whitten.

The former Ulster man and Hanks both drop down to the bench where they will be joined by returning England international Tom Johnson.

Head coach Rob Baxter said: "We have tinkered a little bit. Tommy Hayes has come back in and it is not because James Hanks has done anything wrong, we just have a very strong group of second rows.

"It is almost difficult getting them all the game time they deserve. It will be great to have the captain back in there in a big game.

"Phil Dollman is back now from illness. He would have started last week but he fell ill, so it is good to have him back as well. Tom Johnson has recovered from chest and shoulder knocks and will be on the replacements' bench."

Baxter expects to continue making minor alterations to his selections over the coming weeks. Chiefs host Northampton Saints next weekend before returning to Heineken Cup action against Clermont Auvergne and Leinster.

"Injuries are not too much of an issue for us at the moment, so there is a little bit of rotation possible in the backs and forwards," said Baxter.

"We will keep doing that week by week until the end of the season because we have a good group of players."

Exeter Chiefs: Luke Arscott; Gonzalo Camacho, Phil Dollman, Jason Shoemark, Matt Jess; Gareth Steenson, Haydn Thomas; Brett Sturgess, Simon Alcott, Hoani Tui; Tom Hayes (capt), Aly Muldowney; Dean Mumm, James Scaysbrook, Richard Baxter. Replacements: Neil Clark, Ben Moon, Carl Rimmer, James Hanks, Tom Johnson, Kevin Barrett, Ignacio Mieres, Ian Whitten.

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