3rd April 2014
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The 21-year-old prop has agreed a two-year deal with the Aviva Premiership club and is the latest new addition brought to Sandy Park by Exeter head coach Rob Baxter.

With current tight-heads Hoani Tui and Craig Mitchell set to depart Devon at the end of the current campaign, Baxter has wasted little time in bolstering his options for the No.3 jersey having recently brought in experienced Scottish international Moray Low from Glasgow Warriors and now Francis from the Exiles.

"I'm really excited about the move," said Francis. "If I'm honest, getting into the Premiership has come a lot quicker than I thought, but it's a great opportunity for me and one that I hope to take with both hands.

"Exeter are a great club and one that have come out of the Championship and really progressed within the Premiership. They have a great stadium, superb support and they are a club who are very ambitious and want to move forward.

"When I spoke to Rob [Baxter] he told me about what the club want to do and where they want to go - and convinced me that it's a good place to be if you're an ambitious, young player."

Francis, who has featured 21 times for the Londoners this season, joined Scottish from relegated Doncaster Knights last year, where he played last season alongside his final year of studying and playing at the University of Leeds. 

The talented scrummager made nine starts for the Knights in his last season at Castle Park in addition to two appearances off the replacements' bench. 

The Yorkshire-born prop took up professional rugby after his coach at University recommended him to the Knights and he played for local clubs Malton and Norton in York before moving to Leeds to study Mechanical Engineering. 

He began playing for Doncaster during his second year and spent his third year contracted to the club, whilst continuing his final year of studying.

At Scottish, however, Francis - who tops the scales at an imposing 135 kilograms - has further developed his game and his efforts have not gone unnoticed by Baxter and the Chiefs coaching team.

"The Championship has a reputation for it's physicality and set-piece play," added Francis. "In the Premiership, both those areas are important, but so too are your skills and the pace of the game.

"This season has been tough, but I'm expecting next season to be even tougher. Moving into a Premiership club you know you have to raise you're standards, so it's going to be a big challenge for me.

"Already I know what the coaches are expecting because when I came down to meet them they already had my games clipped and went through various points with me. Working with the two Rob's [Baxter and Hunter] I think will definitely help bring my game on and hopefully make me a better player."

Certainly Francis wants to use the remainder of the current season to not only help Scottish finish on a high note, but at the same time prepare him for what awaits him in the Westcountry next term.

"I'm a totally different player now than to when I joined London Scottish," he continued. "A lot of that is down to the work I have done with Mark Irish and James Buckland as well as Head of Strength and Conditioning Tim Harper.

"When I came to Scottish I was a 50-minute prop who would move from set-piece to set piece. Now I feel I can contribute for a whole 80 minutes.

"For me, the hardest thing about leaving London Scottish will be the bond I have made with the players and backroom staff, but I feel this is an opportunity I could not refuse and I am confident I can succeed in the Premiership at Exeter."

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Dave B

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