TOP BAR - Fixtures

Italian star has the X-Factor – Baxter

Exeter Chiefs head coach Rob Baxter believes new signing Michele Campagnaro can help add some additional ‘X-Factor’ to his side’s back division next season.

Having already bolstered his options with the recruitment of both Geoff Parling and Ollie Woodburn in recent weeks, Baxter has ventured a little further afield for his third new capture who joins from Pro12 side Benetton Treviso.

As always, the Chiefs supremo and his coaching team have monitored Campagnaro’s performance for some time and having put together a detailed assessment of the Mirano-born back, they clearly like what they see from the 21-year-old who has been capped 13 times by his country.

"Like a lot of other clubs, we tend to watch an awful lot of rugby and see a lot of players," explained Baxter. "Over two years or so, maybe even a little bit longer, Campagnaro is somebody who we identified as potentially a player who would fit in our system well in terms of what we want to do.

"He is the correct age to drop into our squad and stay there for quite a long time as he develops and matures with us. He is somebody we have been tracking for quite a long time, and as you track them you make sure you have expressed an interest when they do become available.

"We expressed an interest when we heard there was a possibility of him leaving and it all progressed pretty smoothly."

Baxter added: "You keep an eye on a good number of players across the leagues in Europe, but the large majority don’t end up leaving their clubs. It is something we have got used to in the five years or so that we have been in the Premiership and hopefully it is something we will see more often – attracting more and more quality players to improve the club.

"Having watched him play for Treviso and Italy, a huge part of his game has been defending. When you see him playing for Treviso in the Pro12, he makes an awful lot of tackles. He is a very good and dependable tackler, which first and foremost makes him very selectable.

"You know you can put him in your backline and you know the opposition are not going to make many meters against you. On top of that, anyone who has seen some international performances, you can see he has that X-Factor.

"He has those opportunities to start trying to step people and find a bit of space and he can be a very exciting runner.

"That has probably not developed as much as he would like due to a lack of ball-in-hand time, but when those opportunities do arise, he can be very dangerous.

"When you watch him you probably see a little bit of Jack Nowell movement about him when he looks to attack defenders. I think he is at the right age to develop for us as well, so he has a lot of the attributes to make him a very selectable.

"We also want to add to his game over an extended period. He got a medial knee injury but it is relatively minor and did not cause any issues."

Baxter confirmed that Campagnaro will link-up with his new club for as much as possible ahead of this year’s Rugby World Cup – and will then re-join the Devon club once his involvement in the tournament comes to a close.

Campagnaro featured for Italy during their opening game of this year’s Six Nations against Ireland, but picked up a knee injury in that fixture and will sit out the remainder of the tournament.
 

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