England centre Ollie Devoto has been linked with a shock move away from double-winning Exeter Chiefs, with speculation suggesting Wasps are keen to lure the centre away from Sandy Park.
Rumours took off on the internet in recent days after a keen-eyed motorist claimed that he spotted Devoto and members of the Wasps staff, including head coach Lee Blackett, in conversation in a motorway services station.
RugbyPass understands that there could be some substance to the rumours that the England centre has piqued the interest of the Coventry based side, where Devoto could potentially be seen as a long-term replacement for 37-year-old Jimmy Gopperth. Although he is yet to confirm his future intentions, Gopperth turns 38 this June, so it’s hardly a stretch to imagine that 2021 could be the New Zealander’s final season as a player.
That leaves Ryan Mills, who hasn’t played since injuring his foot in September, and Michael Le Bourgeois as specialist options at inside centre.
Devoto has made over eighty appearances for Chiefs since leaving Bath in 2016 and has scored 16 tries. A versatile player, the Yeovil born back can also slot in at 10, 13 and 15 when needed.
The 6’4 centre has made just two appearances for England to date, coming off the bench for Eddie Jones’ side in their Six Nations defeat to France in Paris last year. The now 27-year-old will be eager to further a case for his inclusion in future England camps. Whether Devoto is a target of Wasps or not, one source did tell RugbyPass that the men in black were in the market for a centre.
Blackett appeared to suggest in media interviews this week that Wasps are primarily concerned with keeping the talent that they have on their books.
“There will be a little bit of movement as there always is,” Blackett told the Coventry Telegraph. “But the big thing for us is making sure we keep hold of what we’ve got. We feel like we’re pretty young as a squad, if we can improve ourselves we will try and improve ourselves, but our focus is on guys who are here and playing regularly, we don’t lose those guys.”
The question also remains whether Devoto could be lured away from the Rob Baxter’s double winners, where he is getting game time in the side’s biggest matches, having started in the Gallagher Premiership final against Wasps, while coming off the bench in the Heineken Champions Cup victory over Racing 92.
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