Double winning Exeter Chiefs have bolstered their front row options for 2020/21, adding South African prop Maks van Dyk – who previously played for Sharks, Cheetahs, Griquas, Leinster, Toulouse and, more recently, a short stint at Harlequins – on a one-year deal as cover for Test players Harry Williams and Tomas Francis.

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A product of the Paarl Boys’ High School in South Africa, the 28-year-old tighthead has an option to extend his initial twelve-month deal if things go well at Sandy Park. “It’s a massive honour to join a club of the calibre of Exeter Chiefs,” said van Dyk. 

“As everyone has seen, they are a team who are not only challenging at the very top end of the game, but they are also winning the big trophies.

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“Having watched them, I like what I see and how they play the game. For me, this is a big opportunity for me to not only join a great club but at the same time improve my own game.

“I know the Premiership is a very tough division, much different to what I faced in France, but having been at Harlequins I do have an idea of what to expect. It’s going to be tough, it’s going to be physical, but that is what you kind of expect at this level.

“The Chiefs have shown they are a force to be reckoned with for a number of years now, getting into semi-finals and finals, so I’m very much looking forward to being part of things here.”

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Baxter, whose front row options were reduced by the departure last season of Australian international Greg Holmes, added: “When we saw the make-up of the new season, particularly with the number of international games on the calendar, we started to look at options around tighthead.

“It’s not like we are going to lose Tomas and Harry for say three or four weeks, it’s going to be a lot longer than that. We have got some great young talent coming through in the shape of Marcus Street and Alfie Petch, both of whom we will use over the course of the coming season, but we felt it would be a big ask on those guys to play ten plus games on the bounce.

“Having a player like Maks, especially with the experience he has, come into the squad – it will allow us to rotate our options a little easier. Like every player, we’ve had a good look at him and we like what we see.

“He’s a big, strong ball-carrier, he’s quite light on his feet for a prop, and some of those key strengths you crave from a prop, he has a lot of those qualities already. There are areas to his game that we feel we can improve on, but when you look at the whole package he brings, he ticks a lot of boxes.”

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