Exeter Chiefs head coach Rob Baxter has spoken of his delight after adding his second new addition to his playing squad for the 2016/17 season.
Having already recruited experienced Australian international prop Greg Holmes from the Queensland Reds, Bath playmaker Ollie Devoto is the latest to put pen to paper on a three-year deal with the Aviva Premiership club.
The 22-year-old will head to Sandy Park from local rivals Bath, whom he has played for since joining their Academy in the 2012/13 season.
Since then, the Yeovil-born back has quietly established himself as a key performer at the Rec, impressing at both fly-half and centre, where he has amassed over 50 Premiership appearances for the club.
Commenting on his latest signing, Baxter said: “Obviously we’re delighted to have Ollie on board from next season. He’s a young, English player who we have been watching for a whole and we’ve been impressed with the way he plays and the character he has shown.
“Looking at him, you can see he’s a very skilful player and someone who can operate at a very high level. His abilities are there for everyone to see, yet we believe there are still areas of his game that we can build upon and develop over time.
“We feel Ollie’s a good fit for us and someone with bags of potential. As a club we’re pleased to be able to bring in a player of his calibre, especially in a week when he’s got his first call-up to the England squad, and we’re looking forward to seeing what he can bring to the club over the next three years.”
Already Devoto is well known to several members of the Exeter squad and coaching staff, having been part of England’s Junior World Championship winning side in 2013, which included Luke Cowan-Dickie, Sam Hill, Jack Nowell and Henry Slade.
“Already he’s got a link with a few of our boys and he knows one or two others in the squad, so we’ve no doubt he will settle in pretty quickly,” explained Baxter. “As I said, Ollie’s someone we’ve watched for some time and we like what we see of him.
“He’s not only a good distributor, but a decent goal kicker and a strong lad as well. We feel he will add to what we have already within the squad and help give us a number of different options moving forward.”
Devoto rose through the ranks of the Bath Rugby Academy,which he joined in 2012, and is now approaching 80 senior career appearances in Bath colours. On Wednesday, the 22-year-old was named in Eddie Jones’s England Squad, having previously won the 2013 Junior World Champions with England U20s.
Devoto said: “I’ve thoroughly enjoyed my time here at Bath Rugby. It will always be a special place to me because it’s where I started my professional career and I’ve made some close friends, as well as working with fantastic coaches and players.
“It’s been a really tough decision to leave, but I feel that a change of environment is what I need to continue my development. That said, there’s a long way to go this season and I’m fully focused on doing what I can to help the team achieve our aims.”
“We’re really disappointed to see Ollie go, but respect his decision,” said Head Coach Mike Ford. “We’ve enjoyed watching his development here at the Club, and would like to thank him for all his hard work, which we know he’ll continue to put in until the end of the season.”