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“He’s done an exceptional job”: Rob Baxter on Harvey Skinner

Exeter Chiefs Director of Rugby Rob Baxter has praised the growth of fly-half Harvey Skinner this season, following his first full year in the starting role.

Skinner has been a mainstay in the Chiefs side this season, but the 26-year-old has been underneath both Joe Simmonds and Gareth Steenson in years gone by.

Speaking to the media ahead of his side’s crucial game against Leicester, Baxter was full of praise for his academy graduate.

“Harvey’s developed hugely. I still battle with what people have expected from Harvey this year in a lot of ways. I’ve had a few conversations with people here at the club or other clubs, and they talk as though he’s this guy with loads and loads of experience and this is how he should be performing every week; but this is Harvey’s proper first season as the guy leading things as our 10 and he’s done an exceptionally good job.”

He added: “I think he’s done exceptionally well, and he’s growing all the time. He’s growing as a leader, as a player and how he runs the team.”

Skinner made his senior debut for the club in 2016, and has gone onto make 91 appearances for the club. He has had to be patient in his career at Sandy Park though; but he has started in all the club’s Premiership and Champions Cup games this season.

“Harvey’s played an awful lot of minutes,” Baxter continued. “At one stage, he was the only 10 option we had for quite a long time. He’s taken a heavy load on the shoulders with a lot of minutes.”

The fly-half has also penned a new deal with the Chiefs, which keeps him at Sandy Park until 2026.

“I’ve set very high standards for him”-Rob Baxter on Skinner moving forward

Harvey Skinner-Credit: IMAGO

Skinner has hit a purple patch of late, but he took things up a gear last weekend against Harlequins in his Man of the Match display.

The fly-half grabbed two tries on the way to the 58-26 thumping of Harlequins, and Baxter said this should act as a baseline for him moving forward.

“Harvey was exceptional last week. I’ve set very high standards for him; I’d expect that to be a bit of a baseline for him now. He’s the kind of guy who’s going to expect that to be a baseline for himself too.”

Skinner and the rest of the Exeter Chiefs team now prepare for a clash with Leicester Tigers at Welford Road. A win could steer Exeter into the play-offs, but results elsewhere will also need to go their way.