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'He's coming in his prime': Sale raid Exeter to sign O'Flaherty

By Liam Heagney
(Photo by Dan Mullan/Getty Images)

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Sale have raided Exeter for the second time in three months, adding winger Tom O’Flaherty to their December signing of England second row Jonny Hill. It’s another example of how the reduced salary cap is having a major effect on club rosters for the 2022/23 season and the Sharks will view the recruitment of O’Flaherty as a bit of a coup. 

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A Sale statement read: “Sharks are delighted to announce that winger Tom O’Flaherty has signed a long-term contract to join the club ahead of the 2022/23 Gallagher Premiership season. The prolific 27-year-old, who has scored 35 tries in 91 appearances for Exeter Chiefs, has put pen to paper on a three-year deal.

“The former Ospreys star will join Alex Sanderson’s squad at the end of the season. Tom grew up in London and played his rugby for Dulwich College and then Blackheath before moving to Wales to study at Cardiff University.

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Chris Ashton | Rugby Roots
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Chris Ashton | Rugby Roots

“He joined Cardiff RFC in 2013, playing four times and scoring four tries, before moving to Bridgend, ahead of the 2014/15 season. He spent time in France, combining a university placement with playing in Top 14 side Montpellier’s academy, but returned to Wales for the final year of his studies, taking up joint registration with Bridgend and the Ospreys.

“O’Flaherty joined Exeter Chiefs in the summer ahead of the 2017/18 Premiership season and has gone on to make 91 appearances, scoring 175 points.”

Sale boss Alex Sanderson added: “When I sat down with Tom it was clear straight away that he is a brilliant guy who really wants to play for this club. I have no doubt he will bring as much to the club off the field as he will on it. For us, making sure we are bringing in good people is absolutely essential if we are going to create and build the right environment and culture at the club.

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On the field, Tom’s record speaks for itself. He has been a huge part of an Exeter side that has been so successful in recent years and I’m confident he will be a fantastic addition. Tom is 27 years old and he is coming here in his prime, with his very best years ahead of him. It’s a massive boost for the club and it’s a big indication of what we’re all about and where we’re trying to get to.”

O’Flaherty told the Exeter website: “I have had an amazing five years with the Chiefs, sharing in some unbelievable moments both on and off the field. Since the day I arrived, it has been an awesome journey, but I feel this is the right time in my career to try something new.

“I have been fortunate to be part of a hugely successful club that each year are challenging for honours. Winning the double back in 2020 is obviously the highlight of my time here, but there are so many other memories.

“Leaving the Chiefs was tough, probably one of the toughest decisions I have had to make, but I still have a few months left of my time here and I intend to give everything to the cause to ensure that I go out on a high note. There are some huge games still to play and I want to be part of them all.”

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