Rob Baxter has spoken of his delight after another three members of his Exeter Chiefs squad today pledged their long-term futures to the Aviva Premiership.
Having already secured the services of both Phil Dollman and Gareth Steenson in recent weeks, the Chiefs head coach has now added Don Armand, Will Chudley and Matt Jess to the club’s retained list.
With the contracts of all three players due to expire at the end of the current campaign, Baxter has wasted little time in tying down the futures of three of his core first-team squad.
Chudley and Jess have both agreed terms on new three-year contracts that will kick in at the culmination of this season, whilst Armand has put pen to paper on a deal that will keep him at Sandy Park for the next two years.
The news that the trio have agreed to stay will ensure the feel-good factor around the club will continue ahead of tomorrow night’s testing league trip to Sale Sharks (7.45pm).
“All three are players that have shown really good form over both this season and last season,” said Baxter.
“I think keeping a group of players together who have been playing well is probably at the core of what we have done over quite a long time. Yes, we have added players and yes, some have moved on, but our playing group has generally remained steady and relatively together.
“That allows you to build qualities and develop skills over a longer period. One thing I think we have done well in the Premiership is develop our skills and our players well over a period of time, not just week by week.”
Indeed, the Chiefs have shown since their elevation into the Premiership in 2010 that they are a club that are on the rise – and their form this term underlines the strides that are being made by Baxter and his team.
Currently the Chiefs find themselves third in the Premiership standings, as well as top of both their European and LV= Cup pools, and Baxter believes retention of key players, as well as detailed recruitment, is paying dividends for the Devon club.
“I think that is what has allowed us to slowly progress as a side – we have not just thrown everything into winning that next game,” added Baxter. “Yes we want to win and prepare well, but ultimately we are looking to the future, and you can only really do that if you maintain a core playing group for a period of time.
“This is Don’s second contract, Jessy’s third or fourth, and Will Chudley’s second too. These are guys that have come in, done well and now they are going to get more time. I am expecting and believing that they will keep performing well and getting better the more time they spend with us.”
Baxter has also hinted that a number of the club’s other out-of-contract stars are close to agreeing terms on new deals.