Rob Baxter has hailed Ben White as one of the "success stories" of Exeter Chiefs after the all-action forward today agreed terms on a new two-year deal with the club.
White, who joined the Chiefs in 2011 from the Cardiff Blues, is the latest in a line of current Exeter stars to re-affirm their commitment to the Devon club in recent weeks.
A destructive on-field force, the Australian-born back-row ace has to date amassed 84 appearances, scoring 15 tries in the process.
Since arriving from the Welsh region, White has helped play an integral part in the rise of the Chiefs, both in the Aviva Premiership and in Europe – and last season he was part of the Exeter side that lifted the LV= Cup for the first time in the club’s history.
This season White has continued to cause mayhem in the opposition ranks and news that he is prolonging his stay in the Westcountry has been welcomed by the Exeter head coach.
Baxter said: "I think Ben has been one of the success stories at Exeter Chiefs. We looked at him a year earlier than when he signed but it didn’t work out for various reasons.
"We’ve got quite a few players we’ve looked at more than once and tracked for a while, which is quite interesting. It probably shows that we get quite a lot of things right when we look at players initially.
"We thought Ben would fit in, he’s an all-action back-row forward. His biggest quality is that you don’t look at him and pull out his carries or pull out his collisions, it’s the all-round package that you get.
"The biggest compliment I can give to Ben is that very often when he plays his total of physical involvements in the game are the number one, as it often is, or second or third. When you add together the number of successful clear-outs he makes as the first arrival, added to his tackles and how quickly he’s back in the game and re-loading and contributing again in kick chase, that work-rate and effort to be involved in the game really is second to none.
"On top of that he’s a very interesting character in the squad, he’s very well liked and the centre of a lot of changing room banter – both giving and taking – and it was a very easy choice for me to want to keep him around. He’s been an energetic contributor to a lot of the things we’ve achieved over the last few years."
A knee injury has sidelined White in recent weeks, but as he edges ever closer to a playing return, Baxter has challenged the player to underline his credentials and force his way back into the Chiefs mix over the second half of the season.
"His challenge now is almost like his challenge when he first arrived," added Baxter. "When he first came we had a pretty well established Premiership group who were playing very well together.
"It took him a little while to break in, then when he did break in he showed a lot of qualities and has played a lot of rugby for us since.
"Now he’s been a little unfortunate because there have been a couple of occasions when he’s got into the first team and picked up some knocks and injuries, but he’s been in the match-day 23 a lot of times this season despite three or four guys playing very well around him.
"It shows the quality of the back five we’re putting together at the squad that there’s a lot of competition and pretty much whatever back five we put out onto the pitch we expect to do very well regardless of the opposition."