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Rob Baxter lauds growth of Ross Vintcent following his call-up to Italy squad for the Six Nations

Exeter Chiefs Director of Rugby Rob Baxter has hailed the form of young back-row forward Ross Vintcent following his selection in the Italy squad for this year’s Six Nations.

The 21-year-old forward is still developing as a player, however he already boasts plenty of experience. In 2022, he would make his URC debut for Italian outfit Zebre, where he featured against Cardiff.

He would make two further appearances for the club, however he would then head for the South West to begin his studies at Exeter University.

Since making the move to the UK, he has been picked up by the Chiefs on a full-time basis, and made his debut for the club in the Premiership Cup in September 2022-the year Exeter would go onto lift the trophy.

Ahead of his side’s clash with Bayonne this weekend, Baxter waxed lyrically about the development of Johannesburg-born forward.

“He’s thriving. I completely understand why Italy wanted to call him into their squad. He’s a guy with exceptional pace, he’s different to a lot of back-row forwards so that’s how we try and use him to get the most out of him, and I think that’s letting him thrive.”

This Six Nations won’t be Vintcent’s first taste of senior representative rugby, with the former Zebre man playing for the Italy A against Romania last year-playing alongside the likes of former Wasps man Matteo Minozzi.

Making the full Italian side is of course another step up for the young forward, but Baxter is fully behind him.

Ross Vintcent learning in Champions Cup.

Exeter Chiefs v Glasgow Warriors European Rugby Champions Cup 13/01/2024. Ross Vintcent of Exeter Chiefs during the European Rugby Champions Cup match between Exeter Chiefs and Glasgow Warriors at Sandy Park, Exeter, United Kingdom on 13 January 2024. Exeter Sandy Park Devon United Kingdom Editorial use only , Copyright: xSimonxKingx PSI-18806-0245

Since his senior debut for the club last year, he has become a regular in the club’s match-day squad this season-including in the Investec Champions Cup.

His early tastes at the highest level were brilliant. He grabbed his first European try in the Chiefs comeback win over URC champions Munster, however a mistake from Vincent nearly cost Exeter the match last weekend.

Whilst on paper this may look a damming indictment , Baxter cited it as an opportunity for the young forward to learn and grow ‘without too much pain’.

“I know he nearly made a howler at the end Glasgow game, but this is what you have to go through with young guys as they gain their first experiences. He wouldn’t have been in that situation before, but now he has.”

“I said to him afterwards ‘at least you got through it without too much pain’; that’s what we want to try and do, we need to try and get through giving these young players experience with not too much pain and we’ve managed to get through that with Ross at the weekend.”