Exeter Chiefs have bolstered their squad for next season after confirming that they have acquired the services of Scarlets lock Tom Price.
The 26-year-old is Exeter Chiefs director of rugby Rob Baxter’s third confirmed new arrival ahead of the 2019/20 campaign, joining on a two-year deal.
The towering lock started out with the Leicester Tigers Academy back in 2013, during which time he also featured for the England U20s, playing alongside the likes of current Chiefs Jack Nowell, Henry Slade, Sam Hill, Luke Cowan-Dickie and Alec Hepburn, as well as playing under Rob Hunter, Exeter’s forwards coach.
It was in 2015, however, that he departed Welford Road and headed to the Principality, signing for the Scarlets where he has to date made 56 first team appearances, scoring three tries in the process.
His arrival in Devon further bolsters Baxter’s options in the second-row, coming just days after the Chiefs also confirmed the arrival of fellow lock Will Witty from Newcastle Falcons.
Price, however, is looking forward to the challenge ahead, saying: “It’s a great move for me. Exeter are a great club, well coached and have some very good players. At the same time, I’m grateful to the opportunity that the Scarlets have given me over the last few years.I’ve enjoyed my time there, met and played with some great people, but just feel it’s the right time to try something new.
“As I said, Exeter are a quality side and they’ve proved that now for a number of years. They are one of the best sides in England and in Europe, so I’m looking forward to getting down there and being part of it all. Obviously, it’s going to help me that I know a few of the boys already from the Under-20s days, as well as Rob Hunter, but at the same time I know I’m going to have to work hard and really get my head down.”
With Wilhelm Van der Sluys having already departed Sandy Park and other locks poised to follow suit at the end of the season, Baxter said it was imperative he looked to ensure he had sufficient numbers in place for next term.
“In an ideal world it would be great if we could keep everybody, but there is a reality it just doesn’t work like that,” he explained.
“We’ve got guys coming in and guys moving on, so it’s all about balancing a very fine line around the salary cap.
“At times this season we’ve struggled a little bit in terms of our options in the second-row because of injuries and international call-ups, so we’ve got to make sure we have players in place who are not only good line-out forwards, but who can run line-outs as well.Tom certainly has those attributes, as well as a number of others, and he has developed his game nicely during his time at the Scarlets.
“What we see is a lot of good things in his game but, like with a lot of people we bring in here, we also see some physical and playing development in him, which is quite important.
“He’s not an old player by any means, he’s young and ambitious, and he wants to achieve things in the game. We feel we can create that environment for him and we can create a launchpad for him to further his career moving forward.
“I’m confident Tom will come here, work hard and buy into the things we ask him to do, and that will give him a great opportunity to play.
“With the season as a long as it next year because of the World Cup – and who knows what players we have involved with that – Tom could easily find himself as a frontline player from day one, providing he is prepared to come here, work hard, and really go after things. Those are the challenges I want to set him.”
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