Rob Baxter: Exeter's Joe Simmonds starts Premiership final vs. Saracens on merit

Joe Simmonds has been in fine form for the Exeter Chiefs ahead of the Premiership final against Saracens. David Rogers/Getty Images

Exeter boss Rob Baxter has backed young fly-half Joe Simmonds to relish his key role in Saturday's Aviva Premiership final against Saracens.

The 21-year-old has not lost a Premiership game he has started in Chiefs colours during his three-month run as first choice No. 10.

Simmonds is set to start the Twickenham showpiece, and Chiefs rugby director Baxter said: "It is a big game for him. I don't think he has started a Premiership game and not come out on the winning side, which is hugely in his favour.

"There are loads of ways of dressing it up and making it a way bigger issue than it is. The reality is he is on form, he's playing well, he is meriting his place, why don't we just keep it simple? And that's what we do.

"We don't try and make selection a complicated thing. I am a big believer that players select the team, not coaches.

"When I say that, I mean that obviously we view them, watch them and analyse what they do, but it is their performances -- the way they train, the way they carry themselves, the way they look like they are developing -- that actually decides whether you select them or not.

"And I think that is what Joe is doing. He is keeping it very simple for himself and helping us select the side by the way he is performing, and I don't want to make it any more complicated than that."

England's leading two clubs this season -- Exeter topped the Premiership by eight points, with Saracens finishing six clear of third-placed Wasps -- go head to head at Twickenham.

Baxter added: "Over the course of the year, we have been the two most consistent sides, we finished in the top two, we were the two home semifinalists.

"There is no real reason not to say this is a game where we are both absolutely flat out."

Baxter looks likely to go with an unchanged team from the one that brushed aside playoff opponents Newcastle last weekend, which means Simmonds featuring opposite Saracens and England talisman Owen Farrell.

Four South Africa-bound England squad members are also likely to feature in Henry Slade, Luke Cowan-Dickie, Jonny Hill and Sam Simmonds, with Exeter aiming to join Leicester, Wasps and Saracens as champions in successive seasons.

"You don't have to look back to the last thre or four games, you only have to look back to the last one [Saracens crushed play-off rivals Wasps 57-33] to see how dangerous they can be," Baxter said.

"We have got to make it a titanic struggle on the gain-line and around the set-piece if we want to get any kind of foothold in the game, but it is always like that against Saracens. You have to find those every time you play them.

"It will be an interesting challenge for us. We are on good form as well, we are on a good run of wins and performances. It is a little bit of putting the semi-final behind us. We certainly didn't roll into the Newcastle game, which was very important. It was probably one of our best-ever performances against Newcastle.

"We took a step from a good league season into the semifinal, and the important thing now is that we step up again and not get too carried away with little bits and pieces you might think you need to add for one-off games."