Baxter's joy as Dennis extends his stay
By Mark Stevens
Rob Baxter says the decision to reward Dave Dennis with a new two-year deal at Exeter Chiefs was somewhat ‘simple’ – given the impact the Australian has provided during his time in Devon.
The 33-year-old forward today penned a new two-year deal with the Gallagher Premiership club, ensuring he will remain in place with the Chiefs until the end of the 2020/21 season.
Signed during the summer of 2016 from Super Rugby outfit, the NSW Waratahs, Dennis has settled well to life at Sandy Park, helping his new club to lift the Premiership title for the first time during his maiden campaign.
Although injury blighted a large part of last season for the Sydney-born star, Dennis again helped the Chiefs to more silverware, this time featuring in their Anglo-Welsh Cup Final victory against Bath at Kingsholm.
With his initial contract due to expire at the end of the current season, Director of Rugby Baxter has moved swiftly to ensure the 18-cap Wallaby remains part of the Chiefs’ make-up moving forward.
“Ever since he arrived, Dave has been a key player for us, both on and off the field,” said Baxter. “That first season he helped us win the Premiership, last season he was instrumental again, and it’s been much the same this year.
“Having played in a variety of competitions and at international level, Dave has gleaned an awful lot of experience over the years. For me, sometimes it’s important when you put together a group of players that you have that range of experience within the group.
“In what is still a relatively young and developing squad we have here, Dave is that more mature and experienced guy, which is what you need.”
To date, Dennis has amassed 54 first team appearances for the Chiefs and has been instrumental in helping Exeter rise to the top of the current Premiership table, eight points clear of defending champions Saracens.
Baxter, though, believes there is still more to come from Dennis, not just this season, but beyond and has backed his man to continue delivering on the field.
“Dave is one of those ‘gainline denters’,” said Baxter. “What I mean by that is, he’s a guy whose carries tend to be hard and which get you over the gainline. In the modern-day game that’s very important. Add in that Dave’s also a very good set-piece forward, and it makes for a very good rugby player.
“However, I do believe Dave is still on an upward curve in terms of his performance and over this season and the next two, I hope we get to see even more from him.”