Baldwin seals switch to the Chiefs
By Mark Stevens
Rob Baxter’s recruitment drive for the 2020/21 season continues apace with the news today that he has added a fourth new arrival to Sandy Park.
Having already confirmed the signings of Scottish internationals Jonny Gray and Sam Hidalgo-Clyne, plus that of England Under-20s international Aaron Hinkley, the Chiefs Director of Rugby has added another great piece of business with the capture of Corey Baldwin from the Scarlets.
The highly-rated back has come through the Academy pathway with the Welsh region, making a try-scoring debut against the Dragons in the Anglo-Welsh Cup in 2016.
In the same season, Baldwin made his Welsh Under-20s debut, scoring against Scotland in the Six Nations Championship.
Equally adept at centre or on the wing, Baldwin – who was born in Camberley, Surrey – is seen as one of the brightest, emerging talents featuring in the Pro14 currently.
Understandably, Baxter is delighted to have secured the services of the 21-year-old.
“Corey’s one of those guys that, as soon as we knew he was on the market, both myself and Ali Hepher sat down and said this guy has something special,” said Baxter.
“He’s a guy with genuine raw pace, he’s a very good defender, and he’s got a number of attributes that we love down here at Exeter. He kick-chases flat out, makes contributions at the end of those chases, works very hard in defence, scrambles very well, and again someone we feel we can get even more out of moving forward.
“I think his preferred position is outside centre, but he’s played a fair bit on the wing for the Scarlets. We can see him being very good in either position and he’s a guy who is at the right age, already playing at a high level, and a player who we can see really thriving in our environment.”
Baxter believes the addition of Baldwin mirrors that of a similar deal back in 2012 when the Chiefs brought Ian Whitten to Devon from Ulster. Since then, Whitten has gone on to amass over 200 appearances for the club and has forged himself as an integral member of the Exeter squad.
“A bit like when we looked at Whitts, Corey’s probably not necessarily seen as the No.1 guy there, but you can definitely see the potential and how he is going to play,” continued Baxter. “It was exactly what we saw in Ian, who has gone on to thrive and develop – and been such a key part of what we have done.
“We are always looking out for guys in similar positions and that is what we see with Corey. He’s ambitious and he wants to do well. For some of those guys to leave Wales and successful sides there, it’s a big commitment from them. So, for him to put his faith in us to help him become the best player he can be is very important.
“To leave your home club takes a bit of faith from them, but that’s the kind of promise you make to them. If they come and work hard, we will work just as hard to help them achieve all the dreams they have got.”
Certainly, Baldwin himself is relishing the challenge of testing himself with the Chiefs in both the Gallagher Premiership and Heineken Champions Cup next season.
“I’m really looking forward to the move,” he said. “Exeter are a hugely successful club, well coached, play a great brand of rugby, and have some top class players within their squad.
“They have shown for a number of years now that they are one of the best teams around, so for me it’s going to be a great challenge to go down there and test myself in a different environment.
“Obviously, I’m very grateful to the Scarlets for the chances they’ve given me over the years. Without them I wouldn’t be where I am now, but the time has come to try something new and that’s going to be with the Chiefs.”