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Mieres enjoying testing himself against the best as Exeter Chiefs prepare for Leinster's visit to Devon

By Western Morning News  |  Posted: January 17, 2013

Ignacio Mieres2. Picture by Pinnacle

Ignacio Mieres. Picture by Pinnacle

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Exeter Chiefs fly-half Ignacio Mieres is expecting another intense examination for the Devon side when European champions Leinster come to Sandy Park on Saturday.

The Chiefs went down 46-3 away to this season's potential Heineken Cup winners Clermont Auvergne in France last weekend, and there is no let-up for them.

Leinster will arrive in the Westcountry desperate for a bonus-point win to keep alive their title defence, and should be able to boast a near full-strength line-up packed full of Ireland internationals, including the likes of Brian O'Driscoll, Rob Kearney and Jonathan Sexton.

"I think we are in one of the most difficult pools in the Heineken Cup, but it is better for us to be like that because we are playing against the best teams like Leinster and Clermont, and we want to play the best," said Mieres, who came on as a 52nd-minute replacement for the injured Gonzalo Camacho against Clermont.

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"We learnt against Clermont last weekend that from every little mistake we make, the top teams will score points," he added.

"In defence, we need to be really alert and our physicality is very important as well in terms of stopping offloads. I think it was a big lesson for us," the Argentinian said.

"Leinster are another awesome team, and I am sure it is going to be a really intense match, as it was in Clermont, and we will need to play our best game to get a positive result."

Mieres felt that there was no disgrace in losing by such a big margin against one of European rugby's superpowers in Clermont, who were defending a superb home record.

"We knew who we were going to play against. They had played 53 games at their ground without losing and are one of the favourites to win the tournament. We knew it was going to be a really, really tough game, and that is what happened," said the former Stade Francais number ten.

"Wherever we go, we really want to play and try and do our best, but we got beaten by a really good team."

Exeter enjoyed their best moments of the contest in the opening ten minutes or so of each half, but they failed to take their chances and were swept away by a hugely impressive six-try display from Clermont.

"There were moments we felt frustrated because we were trying but we couldn't get it right," explained Mieres.

"It was a big challenge. We came out and did the best we could, and sometimes we got it right and sometimes we didn't.

"We showed a little bit of inaccuracy, but a lot of credit must go to Clermont as well, because they are a great side.

"We are still learning, this is our first year of playing in the Heineken Cup, and it is still a big learning curve for us."

The match took a huge physical toll on the Chiefs, with several players picking up injuries that forced them to leave the field, while many others who stayed on ran themselves into the ground.

"I only played 30 minutes and I ended up feeling pretty tired, so I reckon the guys on the pitch for the whole game must have been exhausted," admitted Mieres.

Meanwhile, Leinster, who beat Exeter 9-6 in Dublin in October, have one or two minor injury concerns ahead of Saturday's game.

Ireland centre and former British Lions skipper O'Driscoll rolled his right ankle in last weekend's 33-14 victory over Scarlets, but the Leinster management are confident he will be fit for selection.

Ireland international duo, prop Cian Healy and fly-half Sexton, also went off against the Welshmen, but more as a precaution.

Back-row forward Sean O'Brien was a late withdrawal from the Scarlets game due to illness, but he is expected to resume full training this week, as will Kevin McLaughlin (shoulder).

Ireland hooker Richardt Strauss will be available for selection, together with Fijian winger Isa Nacewa, who successfully came through his comeback game after missing the last few weeks with a forearm injury.

Read more from Exeter Express and Echo

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