27th February 2014
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The experienced 34-year-old fly-half is the latest Chief to commit his future to the Devon club, whom he joined last summer after five seasons playing in the Welsh capital with the Cardiff Blues.

Sweeney's decision to extend his stay at Sandy Park is not only a welcome boost for Baxter, but will ensure the Chiefs have plenty of options in the crucial No.10 jersey along with Gareth Steenson and Henry Slade.

Commenting on the deal, Baxter said: “Ceri’s in one of those positions that’s very important in a rugby side. He’s in a key position at fly-half and if Steeno and Sladey go pretty well he might not get much game time, but at the same time he’s one injury away or one player’s lack of form from coming in and having to run a Heineken Cup campaign for you. Ceri’s done that.

“He’s an ideal person for us because we could put him in there and we’d be very comfortable with him starting, or he can be on the bench or he can run our LV= Cup side as skipper – he has a lot of skills.

“Also he is a particularly good guy around the squad. He understands that some of his role will be helping other players around him and a large part of his role is making sure he’s bang on form when his opportunity comes to play. Ceri’s been very good at that."

As part of Sweeney's long-term aims, the former Welsh international is to combine his playing role with that of helping Exeter's highly-rated youngsters to come through the ranks.

Baxter added: “Ceri will also be doing a little bit of coaching this year and a bit of mentoring, particularly in the academy and some individuals who look to be coming through and developing.

“Ceri not only has the skills, attributes and qualities you want in a player, he’s also got the ability to drive an attitude with the players around him, even when he’s not in the 23. He fills a key position within our squad. You like to have fly-halves who can come in and run the show for you and still be in that position if you have an injury. Ceri fills a lot of roles for us.

“We’re really pleased he’s staying on because there are plenty of clubs looking for fly-halves and he could have gone away and been a guaranteed starter somewhere. Instead he decided to stay with us, hopefully for him he’ll get enough rugby to be happy with that part of it, but it’s also about what he can do for us as a club and help move us forward. I think it’s fantastic he’s agreed to stay.”

With 35 international caps to his name, Sweeney's big-game experience has already been utilised in helping both Steenson and Slade to develop their own games this season.

“You see the fly-halves go off together and discussing things together and he helps the guys work out game plans and with the analysis,” said Baxter. “He’s proved to be a very good all-round person to have at the club. Myself and Ali had no hesitation in trying to keep Ceri at the club because it’s obvious with how well Steeno’s going this year and how well Sladey’s going this year – Ceri’s the most experienced of the three and having him around is invaluable to those guys.

“I am not writing Ceri off as a player – the other two guys are having to play very well to keep him out of the picture at the moment – but the three of them as a group give us some real quality in a very important position.”

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Dave B

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