The Australian-born lock, who will head to the Westcountry after two seasons with Edinburgh Rugby, is Rob Baxter’s fourth capture ahead of next season, joining the likes of Geoff Parling, Ollie Woodburn and Michele Campagnaro at Sandy Park.
His arrival is somewhat timely as it comes in the same week that current Chiefs skipper Dean Mumm announced he would be leaving Devon at the end of the current campaign to re-join former club NSW Waratahs.
Atkins and Mumm are old mates having played together back home in Australia and the latter has helped to give the Exeter newcomer a detailed insight into his new club.
“I’m very excited about the move, I’ve heard fantastic things about the club and having visited Sandy Park myself, it looks a great facility and a great place to go and play my rugby,” said Atkins, who has previously played for the Waratahs, Western Force and Sydney University.
“Like a lot of people, I’ve watched how the Chiefs have gone from strength the strength over the last couple of years. The style of rugby they play is really good and you can see that all the players really work hard for one another out on the pitch.
“I spoke to Dean when I came down and he gave me an insight into the club and the area, I’ve also played in the same club competition as Mitch Lees back home and I know Byron McGuigan from his time up here in Scotland.”
Standing at 6ft 6in and weighing in at 18st 6lbs, Atkins will certainly offer some bulk to the Chiefs pack. For the past two seasons he has been a cog in the Edinburgh engine-room, featuring 25 times for the Scottish outfit in the Guinness Pro12 League.
Now, the Hobart-born forward is keen to have a crack at English rugby’s top tier and having tackled Premiership sides in Europe, the challenge of facing them all on a weekly basis is something that appeals to the 26-year-old.
He added: “The Premiership has created a reputation as being one of the best leagues in world rugby, so it’s going to be a great challenge for me. Also I think I’ll enjoy mixing it with the top sides in English rugby on a weekly basis, you only have to look at the teams and the players to see how competitive it is for anyone who features in it.”
Having spent time taking in the surroundings of Sandy Park and Exeter, Hicks was suitably impressed by what he saw on offer in the Westcountry.
“Rob didn’t really have to sell the club to me, a club like Exeter does that itself,” he said. "You only have to look at their performances and their results to see they are a club that are moving in the right direction. Also speaking to other players, they only have good things to say about the place so I’m really looking forward to moving there in the summer.
“At the same time, I’d like to thank Edinburgh for all they have done for me. They are a great club and I’ve made so many good friends and the set-up they have is fantastic. Obviously it’s sad whenever you move on, but this is a new chapter in my career and it’s one that I’m keen to take on.”