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“We’re prepared to wait to get the right guy”-Rob Baxter not rushing for new recruits

Exeter Chiefs Director of Rugby Rob Baxter has said recruitment is ‘an ongoing process’ but he’s ‘prepared to wait a season to get the right guy.’

The Chiefs haven’t made massive strides in the transfer market year, despite another batch of players leaving Sandy Park. Jonny Gray, Danny Southworth and Alec Hepburn are amongst the confirmed names to be heading out of the exit door; but Baxter told members of the media he isn’t going to rush a signing.

“We traditionally have not rushed in our recruitment unless we’re very happy with something,” he said. “This is not unusual for us to still be coming towards the turn of the season and still looking at who may become available.

He added: “On the whole we will back up our youth system if we don’t feel we can see the right guy. We’re quite prepared to wait a season to get the right guy. We’ve done that before, we’ll do that again.”

“I’m not in a rush to go and just put a body in there. We’re going to find the right guy”

As Baxter alluded too, the academy has a great pathway into the first team for several years now. The likes of Jack Nowell, Simmonds Joe and Sam, Luke Cowan-Dickie and Dave Ewers all came through the academy in the past, and now the likes of Rusi Tuima, Lewis Pearson, Marcus Street and Richard Capstick are following in their footsteps.

Nika Abuladze set to leave Sandy Park

Nika Abuladze-Credit: IMAGO

Despite Baxter wanting to wait for the right guy, he might have to target a loosehead. In the past couple of weeks, reports have also emerged that Montpellier are making a move on Georgian prop Nika Abuladze.

Abuladze joined the Chiefs in March 2023, and has played 16 times for the club. He established himself as a regular in the Chiefs match-day 23 this season, however an Achilles injury picked up against Glasgow ended his season.

Speaking on the Georgian powerhouse, Baxter said: “Montpellier have approached him, they have made an offer. He is under contract, so as we go through the negotiations around him leaving or transfer fees or how that might work, they’re what we’re working out now. There has to be an agreed process for him leaving first here, terminate his contract and that’s the process we’re going through now.”

The departure of Abuladze is just another spanner in the works for the Chiefs at loosehead. Danny Southworth and Alec Hepburn have agreed moves to URC sides Cardiff and the Scarlets respectively, and versatile prop Patrick Schickerling is also off to Glasgow next season.

He added: “Recruitment is ongoing and things like this happen. Obviously you have to alter your approach and you have to go back into the market. That’s what we’ll do. A month ago we weren’t expecting Nika to be leaving; he was under contract, we were expecting him to be back around the start of next season in the term for his Achilles. But obviously things change when clubs start throwing around offers in front of players.”

Despite the exodus of looseheads from Sandy Park, Scott Sio will still remain at the club after agreeing a new deal.

Rob Baxter on Hunter Paisami deal

Hunter Paisami-Credit: IMAGO

Whilst the Chiefs might be needing a new recruit at loosehead, one signing the club have been linked with is Wallaby centre Hunter Paisami.

Reports in the Australian media emerged that Exeter had tabled an offer to bring the Red’s man to the Premiership, however it has now been confirmed Paisami will remain down under after agreeing a new deal with Rugby Australia.

Commenting on their pursuit of the Wallaby back, Baxter said talks had begun.

“We got as far as talking with him. I think he genuinely was assessing his options on whether to stay in Australia or whether to start that journey of looking at overseas rugby. We never made an assumption he was coming here, but we knew it was a decision-making process and we tried to be part of that. That’s as far as it went.”

The interest in Paisami didn’t come out the blue though, with Baxter confirming they are also after another centre.

“We are looking at our midfield options, because we’re going to lose a player in that position. We are a little light there, numbers-wise, for our squad.”

Whilst Baxter is keen to bring in another body to bolster the midfield, Exeter still have Joe Hawkins, Henry Slade, Zach Wimbush, Ollie Devoto and new recruit Will Rigg in their ranks.