Newcomer Shaun Malton says he’s ready to start an "exciting new chapter in his life" after he became the latest addition to Rob Baxter’s first team squad at Exeter Chiefs.
The South African-born hooker is the Devon club’s fifth new addition ahead of the 2015/16 season and joins on a two-year deal from Championship outfit Nottingham.
Malton, who has previously had spells with London Irish and also the Sharks in the Currie Cup, admitted the chance to join the Aviva Premiership club was an opportunity he simply could not resist.
"It’s an exciting new chapter in my life, I’ve heard great things about the Chiefs and I’ve seen how they have gone over the last few years,” said the 25-year-old. “You can see they are a club on the rise and to be part of that will be great.
"I came down a few weeks ago to have a chat with Rob and the coaches and I was blown away straight away. The stadium is fantastic, the facilities are awesome and the vibe around the group seems really relaxed."
Already Malton has one familiar face in the Exeter camp to call upon – and he says he chatted to current full-back Chrysander Botha about life at Sandy Park.
"I know one or two of the boys already at the club and I chatted to Chrysander Botha before I came down and he said he was loving life at the club and that I would really enjoy my time down there."
And that very point was endorsed by head coach Rob Baxter during discussions about his latest move.
Dalton added: "Chatting to Rob was great as he seemed a straight-forward guy and told me what he expected of me as a player. Personally, I was surprised how much detail the coaches had done in terms of researching me, I came in and they had videos of my games and showed me what they liked about me and what they thought I could improve."
For Malton that may have been a new experience, but for all newcomers heading into the Chiefs this is indeed standard practice, particularly as Exeter look to mix it with the elite of the English and European game.
"You can see each year the Premiership is getting better and better in standard, so it will be great to be part of such a strong side," continued Malton, who has represented South Africa at Under-18, 19 and 20s level.
"Initially my aim will be to have a strong pre-season, lay down my own kind of markers and see where I go from there. I’m aware the Chiefs have already got a number of top quality hookers, so it will be down to me to work hard and show the coaches what I can do."
But before he heads to the Westcountry, Malton did have special words for his current club who he says have helped to develop his career over the past two years.
He added: "Nottingham have been awesome to me during my time there, Martin Haag (the coach) has really helped me to improve my game. He put a lot of faith in me when I was out injured and his input has been fantastic. The boys too are great, we only have a small squad, but we do a lot together both on and off the field and I’ve really enjoyed my time there."