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Exeter sign a 133kg tighthead with immediate effect

By Liam Heagney
(Photo by David Rogers/Getty Images)

Exeter have moved quickly to fill the void left by injured tighthead Harry Williams by securing the immediate effect signing of Ehren Painter from Northampton. Williams suffered a serious knee injury in the Chiefs’ March 5 drubbing against Harlequins at Twickenham and they have quickly moved to shore up their front row with the race for the final two Gallagher Premiership playoffs spots going down to the wire.


A statement read: “Ehren Painter has completed his move to Exeter Chiefs from Gallagher Premiership rivals Northampton Saints. The 24-year-old tighthead prop, who has played 84 times for the Saints, will move to Sandy Park with immediate effect.

“A product of Northampton’s academy, Painter – who tips the scales at 133kg and stands 6ft 3in – made his senior debut for the club against Saracens in 2018 and has been a regular within their first team ranks ever since.

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“Born in London, he represented England at age-grade level, including for the U20s in both the Six Nations and World Rugby Championships in 2018. Now, Painter is set to test himself in a new environment at the Chiefs, who will be grateful for his arrival in the wake of fellow tight-head Harry Williams being ruled out with a significant knee injury.

“Painter is the second new addition to the front row inside a week with the Chiefs confirming at the weekend the arrival of Georgian loosehead Nika Abuladze.”


Painter said: “I’m looking forward to the move and being part of what should be a really exciting end to the season. Exeter are a club I have huge respect for. Having come up against them numerous times in the past, you know the threat they pose in terms of their pack of forwards. Strengths of what they do well are what I like to think I have within my own game.


“Going down there, testing myself in a new environment, it will be good for my game. Having a new outlook on things, learning from different coaches, playing with different players, it’s all going to add to my game.

“At the same time, I want to say a huge thank you to everyone at the Saints. I have loved my time at the club and enjoyed some very special memories over the years. I’ve made lifelong friends and I will always be grateful for the opportunities they have given me.

“As I said, this is a new opportunity for me and it’s one I want to take with both hands. It’s an exciting move for me and with plenty still to play for this season, I hope I can add something to the squad over the coming weeks.”

Exeter boss Rob Baxter added: “Knowing that Harry would be leaving at the end of the season, we have been keeping a close eye on the tighthead market, Obviously, we have got the likes of Marcus Street, Patrick Schickerling and Josh Iosefa-Scott already here, but we had already started talking to Ehren and Northampton about him potentially joining earlier than the start of next season.


“That kind of lined up with plans Northampton had as well, so we started the procedure before Harry got injured. Now that he has picked up that injury, it works doubly well for us to get him here as soon as possible. If everything goes to plan, he should be with us at the end of this week and then we’ll get him registered and available for the remainder of the season.

“He has got a bit of experience, probably without playing the game time he would have liked. At the same time, he is 24, he is a big guy and his super strength is scrummaging. There is no mystery in the fact that we want to add something in that area. Obviously, there are things he needs to work on, but there are things we can help him with as well.

“It’s the same with every player as they change clubs. Sometimes that new challenge can be good for them, so I think he will fit in very well and look forward to getting him down here and cracking on with things.”


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