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Exeter turn to Argentina after Jacques Vermeulen injury setback

By Liam Heagney
(Photo by Mark Metcalfe/Getty Images)

Exeter have alleviated the loss of South African Jacques Vermeulen to injury by signing Argentina back-rower Santiago Grondona for the remainder of the 2021/22 Gallagher Premiership season. Vermeulen is set to be out until 2022 after suffering a setback in his recovery from a serious hamstring injury.

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That led Rob Baxter to look for cover for Exeter over the course of the winter and he has found it in Grondona, the 23-year-old who has been capped by the Pumas on four occasions and is currently involved with their Autumn Nations Series squad. 

Baxter said: “After the news with Jacques, we felt it was important that we went and had a look in the market to see what was available in terms of options in the back five. Santiago was one name that came up and having had a good look at him, he will be a really good fit for us.

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“Looking at him, it’s pretty obvious he is athletic and that he will offer size and physicality to our pack, so we are looking forward to getting him here and working closely with him.”

Standing at 6ft 6ins and tipping the scales at 106kgs, the Buenos Aires-born Grondona started his career with Champagnat before making the breakthrough with the Jaguares Super Rugby squad.

Having earned his fourth cap last December versus Australia, he signed for Newcastle along with his compatriot Mateo Carreras. However, his stay in England was fleeting as he sustained a serious knee ligament injury in training. Now back to full fitness and involved again with Argentina, who also have Exeter’s Facundo Cordero in their squad, Grondona will now look to fare better at the Chiefs.

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“Obviously, his injury has meant we have not had too much footage to study in recent times,” added Baxter. “But what I have seen was ironically in games that Facundo featured in and we have seen how he has come over and performed very well for us. He [Grondona] will be a very good addition to the squad and we look forward to welcoming here in a few weeks.”

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