EXETER Chiefs director of rugby Rob Baxter has made five changes to his starting line-up for their Investec Champions Cup final pool stage clash with Bayonne on Sunday (5.30pm). 

Josh Hodge makes his return from an injury sustained against Harlequins in Round Two of the Gallagher Premiership in September to start at full-back, taking over from Tommy Wyatt, who is out for the season with an anterior cruciate ligament injury.

Olly Woodburn is reintroduced to the matchday side and will join Ben Hammersley on the wings. 

Henry Slade will be partnered at centre by Ollie Devoto, who takes over from the injured Rory O'Loughlin, an early casualty against Glasgow Warriors last weekend.

Tom Cairns and Harvey Skinner are once again together at half-back.

Recently named in the Scotland squad, Alec Hepburn starts at loose-head, with Nika Abuladze another out for the season with an Achilles tendon injury, alongside Dan Frost at hooker and Ehren Painter at tight-head prop. 

Returned to full-fitness, and newly announced as the Welsh international captain, Dafydd Jenkins returns to the side to pair with Rusi Tuima in the second row. 

The back row is a settled one of Ethan Roots – selected this week by Steve Borthwick’s England – Jacques Vermeulen and Greg Fisilau. 

Baxter expects a real challenge from Bayonne for his young side as they look to secure a home Round of 16 fixture.  

On the bench, the replacement front row is formed by Danny Southworth, Jack Yeandle and Josh Iosefa-Scott. Remaining forward pack cover is provided by Lewis Pearson and Ross Vintcent – named this week in the Italian international squad. 

Rounding out the replacements are Stu Townsend, Joe Hawkins and Zack Wimbush. 

“It’s an interesting situation as we play pretty much the last game of the whole round. Northampton Saints play Munster the night before we play, so we’ll know exactly what we need to get the second spot and potentially the first spot. So, I think those are all interesting challenges, especially for a young group. 

“There’s no point trying not to watch their game to know what we need to do, but ensuring it doesn’t become a distraction is what will be important. 

“Northampton’s result against Bayonne has slightly clouded what Bayonne have been about. Their recent results in the Top 14 are really pretty good, and so, I think people have to be a little more aware that they’re a tough nut to crack at home. 

“They’ll be fired up following last week’s game. We’ve got to turn up with an incredible amount of energy and enthusiasm, and we’re going to have to get into the fight for 80 minutes. If we turn up like that, we give ourselves a very good opportunity.” 

Exeter could need a point to guarantee a home round of 16 tie, if Munster pick up a bonus-point win at home to a full-strength Northampton side at Thomond Park tomorrow evening.

Bayonne lost 61-14 against Northampton at Franklin's Gardens last weekend and have made 10 changes to their starting line-up, having picked a side that very much looks like they have got one eye on next week's Top 14 game at home to Oyonnax.

There are only two players that started their last Top 14 match away to Bordeaux-Begles at the beginning of this month.

Bayonne: Tom Spring, Aurelien Callandret, Victor Hannoun, SIreli Maqala, Yan Lestrade, Thomas Dolhagaray, Guillaume Rouet, Matis Perchaud, Vincent Giudicelli, Junior Tagi, Denis Marchois (capt), Kote Mikautadze, Pierre Huguet, Baptiste Heguy, Rodrigo Bruni. Replacements: Facundo Bosch, Swan Cormenier, Martin Villar, Manuel Leindekar, Manix Ariceta, Kleo Labarbe, Federico Mori, Bastien Pourailly.

Exeter Chiefs: Josh Hodge, Ben Hammersley, Henry Slade, Ollie Devoto, Olly Woodburn, Harvey Skinner, Tom Cairns, Alec Hepburn, Dan Frost, Ehren Painter, Rusi Tuima, Dafydd Jenkins (capt), Ethan Roots, Jacques Vermeulen, Greg Fisilau. Replacements: Jack Yeandle, Danny Southworth, Josh Iosefa-Scott, Lewis Pearson, Ross Vintcent, Stu Townsend, Joe Hawkins, Zack Wimbush. 

Referee: Nika Amashukeli (Georgia).