Exeter Chiefs could become one of the all-time great English sides if they can defend their Premiership title, according to World Cup winner Lewis Moody.
The Devon-based club take on Newcastle Falcons on Saturday for a place in the Aviva Premiership Rugby final and the Chiefs are in ominous form.
Exeter finished the league season at the top of the standings, with 17 wins from 22 games and Moody believes they will have too much for fourth-placed Falcons in the play-offs at Sandy Park.
He said: “Exeter have created a uniqueness that is all their own now.
“They can really stake a claim to be consistently in that top four, having won the Aviva Premiership last year.
“It is very exciting for them – they’ve got to get past Newcastle first, but I think they will.”
The Chiefs won their maiden Premiership title against Wasps, winning 23-20 after extra time, just seven years after being promoted.
Their title defence has been excellent, finishing as league leaders for the first time, despite losing a number of players to represent their countries during the Six Nations.
The Falcons have also enjoyed a superb season, surpassing expectations in reaching the play-offs, but may find reaching the final a step too far, according to the former England man.
Moody said: “Where the coaches have taken the club is fantastic – they’ve made some really clever signings.
“I think they’ll trouble Exeter, but I think Exeter have enough to reach the final.”
Moody also believes that Exeter could be on course to establishing a period of dominance, much like the Leicester Tigers team he was a part of did between 1998 and 2013.
The Tigers won eight titles in that period, and although Moody wasn’t at the club for that entire decade and a half, he certainly knows what it takes to win the Premiership.
He said: “I see absolutely no reason why they can’t back up last season’s title.
“If you want to be remembered as a team for the ages then you have to be able to win again and again, to back it up consistently, year on year.
“That continuity of performance, that clarity and belief is key.
“If they can combine that then there is no reason why we won’t be looking at one of the great sides and saying that the Exeter team of the late 2010s was remarkable.”
Lewis Moody was speaking on behalf of Land Rover, who this year is celebrating its Testimonial Season; ten years of supporting grassroots rugby in the UK. Follow @LandRoverRugby #WeDealInReal