Exeter Chiefs head coach Rob Baxter has spoken of his delight after four of the club’s highly-rated youngsters today put pen to paper on new deals.
Talented back Max Bodilly has been rewarded for some sparkling form with a new two-year contract extension, whilst Stu Townsend and Ed Holmes have also agreed new two-year deals from the start of next season.
Completing the list is young fly-half Joe Simmonds, younger brother of current Chief, Sam Simmonds, who has signed his professional contract, signing on for the next three years.
The news is the latest boost for Baxter, who is quietly going about assembling his squad for next season and beyond. Already he has recruited Australian internationals Dave Dennis and Greg Holmes, as well as Ollie Devoto from league rivals Bath.
In recent years the Exeter Chiefs Academy has helped to bring through a glut of talent, many of whom have gone on to reach full international status.
It is little wonder therefore that Baxter is keen to ensure the supply line continues into the future with the latest crop of gifted talent from the region.
“We talk a lot about our senior recruitment here at the club, especially in terms of our top end signings and making sure we have a large number of the current squad signed up to long-term deals,” said Baxter. “But equally making sure we tie down the talent we have within the academy ranks is just as important.
“Over the years we have brought through a wealth of talent who have made it from academy level right through to full international status. Therefore it’s always nice when we’re able to tie down the futures of more of our younger guys.
“Obviously we’re delighted to secure deals with all of them, but we still feel there is a lot still to unearth in terms of their overall development.”
Baxter continued: “Max has really started to come through this season in terms of the first team, establishing himself within both the Premiership and European squads. He has already shown what a talent he is and we’re hoping to see even more over the next few years.
“As for Joe, we’re delighted that he’s been able to sign his first senior contract with the club. People will be aware he’s broken into the England Under-20s ranks this season, but that has come from some pretty impressive performances in pre-season, the A League and also out on loan for Taunton.
“Stu is another who is beginning to really come through, he’s been a bit unlucky with injuries this season, but when he has played he has displayed some great performances. Like others before him, I think he’s really benefitting from getting regular game time in the Championship and he’s another we expect to kick on.
“Finally with Ed, he’s another who has really settled down this season and is gaining a lot of experience from playing regularly down at Plymouth, whilst at the same time studying full-time for his degree. The challenge for him moving forward is how he will combine the two together, but from what we’ve seen so far we don’t envisage any real issues and we expect him to grow as a player.”