Exeter Chiefs, who extended their lead at the top of the Premiership to nine points with a 29-10 win over Bath at Sandy Park to securing a top-four finish, have bolstered their squad for next season by confirming the signing of Tom Price from the Scarlets.
The 26-year-old lock is Rob Baxter’s third confirmed new arrival ahead of the 2019/20 campaign, joining on a two-year deal. The towering lock started out with the Leicester Tigers academy in 2013, during which time he also featured for England under-20s, playing alongside current Chiefs Jack Nowell, Henry Slade, Sam Hill, Luke Cowan-Dickie and Alec Hepburn, as well as playing under Rob Hunter, Exeter’s forwards coach.
It was in 2015, however, that he departed Welford Road and headed to the Principality, signing for the Scarlets where he has made 56 appearances, scoring three tries in the process.
His arrival in Devon further bolsters Baxter’s options in the second row, coming just days after Chiefs also confirmed the arrival of fellow lock Will Witty from Newcastle. Price is looking forward to the challenge, saying: “It’s a great move for me. Exeter are a great club, well coached and have some very good players.
“At the same time, I’m grateful to the opportunity that the Scarlets have given me over the last few years.I’ve enjoyed my time there, met and played with some great people, but just feel it’s the right time to try something new.
(Continue reading below…)
“As I said, Exeter are a quality side and they have proved that now for a number of years. They are one of the best sides in England and in Europe, so I’m looking forward to getting down there and being part of it all.
“It’s going to help me that I know a few of the boys already from the under-20s days, as well as Rob Hunter, but at the same time I know I’m going to have to work hard and really get my head down.”
— Exeter Chiefs (@ExeterChiefs) March 24, 2019
With Wilhelm Van der Sluys having already departed Sandy Park and other locks poised to follow suit at the end of the season, Baxter said it was imperative he looked to ensure he had sufficient numbers in place for next term.
“In an ideal world it would be great if we could keep everybody, but there is a reality it just doesn’t work like that,” said Baxter. “We’ve got guys coming in and guys moving on, so it’s all about balancing a very fine line around the salary cap.
“At times this season we’ve struggled a little bit in terms of our options in the second row because of injuries and international call-ups, so we’ve got to make sure we have players in place who are not only good lineout forwards, but who can run lineouts as well. Tom certainly has those attributes, as well as a number of others, and he has developed his game nicely during his time at the Scarlets.
“What we see is a lot of good things in his game but, like with a lot of people we bring in here, we also see some physical and playing development in him, which is quite important. He’s not an old player by any means, he’s young and ambitious and wants to achieve things in the game. We feel we can create that environment for him and we can create a launchpad for him to further his career moving forward.
“I’m confident Tom will come here, work hard and buy into the things we ask him to do. That will give him a great opportunity to play. With the season as a long as it next year because of the World Cup – and who knows what players we have involved with that – Tom could easily find himself as a frontline player from day one provided he is prepared to come here, work hard and really go after things. Those are the challenges I want to set him.”
The announcement of Price’s signing was followed by Exeter getting stuck into Bath. Scores from Ollie Devoto, Jack Yeandle and a penalty try put Chiefs in control before Olly Woodburn’s try sealed a bonus point with five minutes left. Bath had gone 10-3 up early on but failed to score again after Nathan Catt’s converted try in the 15th minute.
Sign up to our mailing list here and we’ll keep you up to the minute with weekly updates from the world of rugby.