Baxter adds two new faces
Pictures: Exeter Rugby Club/Pinnacle Photo Agency
By Mark Stevens
Rob Baxter’s squad strengthening for next season and beyond has continued with the signings today of two more new faces.
Heading to Sandy Park next season on two-year deals will be lock Toby Salmon from Championship side Rotherham Titans and winger Tom O’Flaherty, who arrives in Devon having been on dual-registered terms with the Ospreys and Bridgend Ravens.
The duo follow England international Matt Kvesic in agreeing terms with the Chiefs, who are poised to make further announcements shortly on more new recruits and current squad members agreeing new contracts.
Baxter said: “As people have seen before, we have always been happy to look at the Championship, particularly in the front-five forward area. We know the qualities we are looking for in Championship players and we have quite a good record of bringing guys through who show their qualities in the Premiership.
“In regards Toby, we have had a good look around and having closely analysed his game, we saw a lot of the qualities we like and think will make him thrive in the Premiership.
“We aren’t necessarily going to advertise what they are, but he has skills which we feel will transfer to the Premiership quite well. The player himself has shown a bit of self-awareness in areas to improve, so he is someone we can work with.
“The player himself has shown a bit of self-awareness himself in areas to improve so he is someone we can work with. I think he’ll work very hard.
“It is always nice to bring people in from the Championship to fight for their place in the team and the squad and that is a very important quality for him to have. At his age, he’ll develop going forward. He has the base qualities that we look for but I can see him really thriving in the next few years.”
As for O’Flaherty, Baxter added: “Tom is a player who, although he is coming from the Ospreys, is an English lad at university in Wales. We had an opportunity to see him playing for his club, Bridgend, and also for the Ospreys when they have changed up their side a bit.
“He just looks like a guy with bags and bags of potential. He isn’t the biggest guy in the world, but he is elusive and genuinely looks like a real competitor. I think he is someone who potentially could be quite exciting in the Premiership.
“We are excited about bringing young guys in to fight for things. It gives the squad a nice feel when you already have established guys and young guys who really want to fight through for themselves. We have seen that in the past and hopefully we’ll see that in the future.”