Exeter head coach Rob Baxter has today spoken of his delight at bolstering his Chiefs squad with the signing of Australian international Lachlan Turner.
The 28-year-old has agreed a two-and-a-half year deal with the Aviva Premiership club and arrives at Sandy Park having previously played for Aussie Super Rugby sides NSW Waratahs and Queensland Reds, as well as French Top 14 giants RC Toulon.
Turner’s arrival in Devon provides a perfect boost for the Chiefs, who are sitting second in the Premiership table and who have also qualified for the quarter-finals of the European Champions Cup.
"We’re really pleased to have Lachie on board," said Baxter. "We’ve tracked him for some time now and once we knew he had finished his time with Toulon, where he was there on World Cup cover, we started the process of having a real good look at him.
"Immediately you could see he was a very good rugby player and having really looked at his game, we believe he can really add something to us in terms of our back three options. Now he’s here, we will look to ease him gently following his flight over and then as the week progresses, gradually introduce him into full training with the squad."
With 15 caps for the Wallabies to his name, plus a glut of top end experience, Sydney-born Turner is seen as a high-profile capture for the Chiefs moving forward.
"As I said, I’m really pleased to have Lachie here as he will give us that extra bit of strength and experience that we need. The fact he can play in numerous positions is a big thing, just because at times I’ve felt this season we have been a little bit exposed in certain areas.
"I just feel if we are that little bit thicker and little stronger in certain areas, it will help us in the long-term. Also, it’s a good fit in terms of the balance of the squad as well. People will know that we are a club who like to bring through quality young players, but at the same time some of them you would say are relatively inexperienced when it comes to the Premiership and to Europe. Therefore it’s important that we have a good balance in terms of our squad make-up."
As is the case with Baxter and his fellow coaches, the recruitment process in place at the Chiefs is highly detailed with no stone left unturned when breaking down the potential new arrival.
Baxter today admitted he likes lots of what he sees from Turner, but feels there is still more to come from the Sydney-born flyer.
"Lachie asked me on the phone why we wanted to sign him and I said to him that I liked what I saw, but that I felt there was more we could get out of him," explained Baxter. "He said he wanted to come to a club where he thought he would be challenged to become a better player and between us we both knew it was going to be a great fit for one another.
"The fact Lachie has played a lot of Super Rugby over the years and more recently in France with Toulon, we know that he’s capable of performing at a very high level. We feel that he can offer us a lot, both in terms of performance and experience, so he ticks a lot of boxes for us. Also, he comes on the back of a very good recommendation from Dean Mumm, so it’s a great position for us to be in.
"Obviously he will come into the squad not only for this season, but for two more years after that as well. However, he will find himself in the same situation as any other player at the club in terms of getting into the team.
"Right now there is a lot of competition for places in that back three because the guys who are featuring are playing very well. Everyone will know we rate Phil Dollman very highly here and he’s an important part of what we do.
"Also, the two guys on the wing – James Short and Olly Woodburn – they are doing very well; Matt Jess has done fantastic things for the club during his time here and he continues to train at a very high calibre, and then we’ve got a number of other options as well, so it’s a fantastic situation to be in.
"Lachie knows it will up to him to impress and show his qualities in training and in games, but at the same time I know the other guys will be fighting just as hard for a place in the side as well."