Exeter Chiefs Director of Rugby Rob Baxter has spoken of his delight after two more of his current squad today committed their futures to the reigning Aviva Premiership champions.
Back-row forward Dave Ewers and centre Max Bodilly are the latest names to put pen to paper on new two-year deals that will keep them at Sandy Park until at least 2020.
Both products of the club’s highly successful academy set-up, Baxter has spoken of the importance of nurturing homegrown talent and developing them into high quality players, all of whom are capable of performing at the highest level.
“It’s very important for all kinds of reasons to keep hold of homegrown talent,” explained Baxter. “We often talk about creating those strong links with the local community and decisions like this are the way to do that. People who come to Sandy Park at a weekend for a game, they want to see these local guys performing and playing well.
“Equally, it’s up to those players to go out and prove they deserve to be here and that they have the qualities to succeed and help take the club onto that next level. Both those things need to marry up for it to work and, as I’ve said before, we’re keen to keep the right people here at the club and both Dave and Max are the right people for us.”
Having both players on board for the foreseeable future means that Baxter again doesn’t have to go out and recruit a plethora of new faces for next season and beyond. Instead, he will again have a settled group from which to work with moving forward.
He added: “The important thing when you have a successful group of players is actually keeping them together. We are confident - and both Dave and Max are prime examples of this - that we ave a very good age range here at the club, many of whom are not actually getting overly mature.
“We’ve won a Premiership last season, we’ve played in two big finals for the past two years, yet we still think we have a playing group that is improving and will only get better with time. For me, that’s a positive sign, but it’s only positive if we keep the large majority of them together.
“This re-signings are an indication that we are capable of doing that, but at the same time the players and ourselves as a club are expecting more from both of them going forward. As I said, it’s very positive news for us that both have agreed to stay on.”
Although both players have spent time on the sidelines recently with injuries, Baxter knows all too well what the duo can offer to his squad, insisting that the injury breaks can actually benefit the players in the long-term.
“I’m a big believer that you can often use these injury breaks, especially if you’re a young player, in a positive manner,” continued Baxter. “Because pre-seasons are getting shorter and breaks are a lot less common, having a break at some stage I think can help to improve your physique and you skill development.
“Sometimes when you play every week, you don’t have that time to work on your physique or other areas of your game. And whilst it can seem frustrating when a young player is out for a sustained period, I do feel in the long term it can have real benefits, particularly as they are not receiving that week to week battering that a tough season can deliver to you.
“I always say, missing games in your early 20s is not necessarily a bad thing as you can add them onto your career later, when it’s more likely you are at the peak of your powers.”