John making early waves with the Chiefs

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Young Welshman Dan John has impressed many at Sandy Park after joining the club permanently in the summer from Millfield School. Pictures: JMP Sport

By Simon Thomas

He’s the latest son of a Welsh international to take his bow in the senior game - and he’s doing it with the European champions.

Dan John - the 19-year-old son of ten-times capped ex-Pontypridd scrum-half Paul John - has just broken into the Exeter Chiefs first-team.

He made his debut as a replacement at home to Leicester and then played the full 80 minutes at outside centre away to Gloucester last Friday night.

That Kingsholm clash saw him going up against Six Nations title-winning star Louis Rees-Zammit.

Versatile Wales U20s international John was signed up by Exeter on a three-year deal last September, having completed his studies at Millfield School in Somerset.

He is clearly relishing life with the Exeter club, who won both the Champions Cup and the Gallagher Premiership last season.

“It’s definitely a special group of players,” he told Chiefs TV. “Especially, for me, coming in straight after a double champs win. They have been so welcoming. All the boys just get behind you and make sure you can get on the field and do your best.

“There are loads of coaches for every aspect of the game and there is so much I can improve on. The coaches will come out and do whatever you want with them, so I am really looking forward to the next few years here.”

John’s call-up to make his debut against Leicester left him facing a bit of a headache - as he was back in Wales at the time.

“That week was mad,” he said. “I started out in the middle of Wales and then got a call that I’ve got to get back as quick as possible, even though i can’t drive.

“The first thing going through my mind was I have to get back to Exeter as soon as possible, so I was calling everyone I knew in Wales to try and get me a lift back.

“I got my mate to give me a lift and then ended up on the bench, which I was so chuffed about. I am glad the coaches backed me, with a few injuries, just to have a go and I really enjoyed myself.

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Exeter's Dan John gets to grips with Leicester's Dan Kelly on his Gallagher Premiership debut

“I was so excited, I just wanted to get on as soon as possible. I have never been so excited just to get on the field. As soon as I got on, it was just a case of flying into everything and doing my best.”

Dan excelled at athletics during his time at Garth Olwg comprehensive in Church Village, while he has also played football for Cardiff City’s Academy.

But it’s rugby that has become his firm focus.

He started out in his father’s old position of scrum-half, but was then switched to the outside backs, such is his pace.

When Paul was appointed Hong Kong’s Sevens coach in 2017, Dan followed him out there and played both rugby and football, ahead of taking up a place at Millfield.

As well as Wales’ U20s, he has also been capped at U18s and U19s level, figuring primarily at full-back.

Now he is being utilised at 13 by Exeter, as he takes his first steps in senior rugby.

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