Exeter Chiefs newcomer Olly Woodburn says he is looking forward to the challenge that awaits him at Sandy Park following his move from Aviva Premiership rivals Bath Rugby.
Woodburn, along with England and British Lions lock Geoff Parling, are Rob Baxter’s first new additions to his playing squad ahead of next season.
Having spent all his professional career to date in the Roman City, the 23-year-old back says the time was right for him to experience something new and the opportunity afforded to him at the Chiefs was one he was keen to take on.
"I’m really looking forward to the challenge, I’ve only ever been at Bath as a professional so it’s going to be good to have a change of scenery and test myself in a different environment," said Woodburn.
"I’ve spoken to one or two players who know the club and the set-up and they all say positive things about the place and that it’s quite a tight knit group down there."
With the best part of 40 first appearances to his name at Bath, the Keynsham-born player has tackled his new employers on several occasions in the past and says he has been impressed by the way the Chiefs have gone about their business in English rugby’s top flight.
"Having faced the Chiefs, I know the attacking style they like to play and as a back that obviously suits me down to the ground," he added. "You can see they put a real emphasis on players getting their hands on the ball and attacking opposition.
"Talking to the coaches, especially Ali Hepher, I liked how much they had researched me and how much they had looked into my game. They talked to me about my strengths and weaknesses, which I really respected, and outlined where the club wants to go long term."
Exeter’s fine form this season has seen them not only position themselves amongst the frontrunners in the Premiership, but they’ve advanced to the last eight of the European Challenge Cup and are nicely placed in the defence of their LV= Cup crown at the halfway stage.
Woodburn continued: "They’ve had some really good results this season, especially against some of the top teams, and you can see they have been competitive in not just the Premiership, but the other competitions as well.
"Looking in from the outside, you can see they have a strong core running throughout the club – right through from the Academy to the first team – and that tends to happen with sides that are challenging at the top end."
Leaving Bath, though, was far from easy explained Woodburn and he was quick to pay tribute to the players, coaches and staff who had helped to mould his game over the years.
"I’ve had some really good times at Bath over the years and I will always be grateful to them for the opportunity they have given me,” he said. “I’ve got to play alongside some great players and work with some equally great coaches, so it will be tough when I come to leave.
"At the same time, moving to Exeter is a great opportunity for me and it’s one I hope to take with both hands."