Exeter Chiefs head coach Rob Baxter says he is excited at what newcomer Byron McGuigan can bring to the party after the 25-year-old completed his move to the Aviva Premiership club on Saturday.
The Namibian-born ace, who has penned a contract until the end of the season with the Chiefs, jetted into Sandy Park ahead of Exeter’s LV= Cup win over Gloucester on Saturday and will offer an additional option to the Devon club with the Premiership campaign set to return in less than a fortnight.
Having previously featured for Border Bulldogs and Glasgow Warriors, the versatile back has more recently been featuring for the Bay of Plenty in New Zealand’s ITM Cup and arrives at Sandy Park ready to have a crack at top level rugby in England.
Commenting on his new arrival, Baxter said: “Everyone’s been aware we’ve felt we were one back light in our squad since the start of the season. I’ve said since the start of the year that there was a space there and we’ve been keeping our eye on the situation and which players were becoming available.
“Byron’s been playing in the ITM Cup, so it was nice to be able to watch him playing and keep an eye on him when we knew he was available. We’ve been able to watch four or five games in the past week, which makes it easier for you to recruit a guy who’s up to speed at this time of year.
“We’ve felt we’ve been one back light and it hasn’t seemed to take many injuries in our backline for us to get a little bit bare, with the fact you’re dealing with three competitions one on top of the other you can suddenly look a bit stretched.
“We know he’s a good player, we played against him twice when he played for Glasgow last year when he played 13. He’s been playing in the ITM Cup at 15, he can play on the wing, so there’s a lot of versatility there which gives us a lot of cover in the squad but we want more from him – we want him to come here and fully contest for a starting berth.
“He should get up to speed pretty quickly because he’s match ready, so as soon as we can get some training into him we’ll see how things go. It’s the same for any player, they come in and they have got to fight for their spot. If he shows the right qualities he’ll get game time.”
With summer signing Chrysander Botha set to be away on international duty with Namibia later this month.
McGuigan’s arrival is not only timely for the Chiefs, but offers an experienced option within the Exeter back division.
“With what we’re looking for within the squad, his versatility was very important,” added Baxter. “He’s got a turn of pace, is a solid defender and he likes to make things happen. That’s the most important thing.
“His basic skill set is very good, now it’s up to him to settle in to what we do here at Exeter Chiefs and I know Ricky and Ali are looking forward to working with him and we can see what he can bring.
“He’s got to be an enthusiastic guy. We came to the final agreement on his contract less than 48 hours ago and he turned up yesterday, so within 24 hours of us agreeing everything he’s on a plane from South Africa and he’s here and he’s taking part in his first training session. That shows you someone who’s keen to get involved with things and is desperate to play some rugby, and those are qualities you should look for in players.”
Baxter continued: “He’s got a variety of experience, both in the Rabo and the ITM Cup. A lot of qualities he’s got we feel very comfortable with.
“It’s not a signing where we expect him to be ripping up trees and starting for 80 minutes for every week in the first team. What we’ve seen are some good qualities, now what we want to see are some good qualities within our training set up and within our systems then the rest is up to him. We’ve got a lot of players here who have come here and decided to work very hard and they’re playing a lot of rugby and being very successful for us, Byron’s got exactly the same opportunity.”