The 32-year-old tight-head prop, who joins from Super Rugby outfit Queensland Reds, will move to Sandy Park at the start of next season on a two-year deal.
A product of the Reds Academy, Holmes made his debut for the Aussie franchise back in 2005 against the Blues and has since gone on to win 132 Super Rugby caps, seven eight tries in the process.
With 24 caps for the Wallabies also in his locker, the experienced Holmes is head coach Rob Baxter’s first foray into squad strengthening for next term.
“I’ve been in Queensland all my career so it’s going to be a different challenge for me.,” said Holmes. “Right now I feel a little bit nervous, but at the same time excited about what lies ahead.
“I’m at the stage where I wanted to try something a bit different and having spoken to my wife about it, this was a great opportunity for us to do that.”
Having been part of Australia’s Rugby World Cup squad, playing alongside former Exeter skipper Dean Mumm, Holmes said he enjoyed the experience of playing in England during the tournament and that in itself helped to rubber-stamp his move across the globe.
“Playing in the World Cup was a great experience,” he added. “The whole buzz and atmosphere was fantastic and it kind of helped make my decision. My wife was over for the tournament as well and she loved it, so that kind of rubber-stamped things for us both.
“Also, I spoke to Dean about the place and he was very positive about the club and the whole area. He said the boys are a great bunch and that it wouldn’t take very long for me to settle in.”
Although it’s going to be a different way of life for the Warwick-born forward, he says the chance to test himself in a different environment really appeals to him.
“It’s going to be a change of lifestyle and a different competition but I think that’s part of the attraction,” continued the 6ft, 114kg forward. “Back here the competitions in European are highly thought of and as a forward it’s probably the toughest scrummaging that you’ll come across, so it’s great that I will have the opportunity to test myself in a different environment.
“Speaking with Rob [Baxter] he told me the Chiefs haven’t been in the top division all that long, but that they have been slowly building over the years. He said they have a good core of players who want to achieve things and who want to win trophies. Hopefully coming over there I can add my little bit to things and help the club to progress even further.
“I’ll be honest, I didn’t know a huge amount about Exeter, but since we’ve been talking and the deal was struck, I’ve done a bit of homework on the place and seen that the team have been doing very well with recent results.
“I’ve also got an aunty who lives in London and she’s told me that is is a great part of the country and that we’ll really enjoy it over there.”
Before he departs Brisbane, though, Holmes will have one final year with the Reds, a club he says he will always remember.
“I’ve spent half my life with the Reds, I’ve been there from the academy upwards and it’s got me to where I am today. I’ve been lucky to play with some great players, win a Super Rugby title and also play for my country, so I owe the club a huge amount.”
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