6th March 2014
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The 20-year-old centre, whose new deal will take him through until the summer of 2017, becomes the latest member of Baxter's squad to pledge their future to the Chiefs in recent weeks.

Hill's rise through the Exeter ranks - particularly this season - has certainly been impressive and Baxter feels the Exeter-born starlet has all the right attributes to make to the summit of the professional game.

Along with the likes of Luke Cowan-Dickie, Joel Conlon, Dave Ewers, Jack Nowell and Henry Slade, Hill has battled his way through the club's academy system to instill himself firmly in the plans of the Chiefs and also the England set-up, where in recent times he has not only won the Junior World Championship in France, but also figured for the England Saxons against the Irish Wolfhounds.

“I think people forget that a little while ago he was a teenager, but he’s already played Premiership and Heineken Cup rugby,” said Baxter. “I think he’s a good example of a success story of our academy, and one we think will thrive for the next three years, and hopefully develop into a full international player, not just a Saxon.

“It’s great that Sam wants to stay and is prepared to commit so early. It’s one of the signings that makes me smile, when a local player who has progressed through our academy commits long-term to the club.”

Baxter added: “He’s moving out of the academy into the senior squad now and I think that’s fantastic. He’s the first one of our England Under-20s guys to extend his contract, and we’re hopeful the other guys will do likewise.

“Sam’s had a fantastic season, and he’s done it the right way. He’s worked hard when he’s gone to a Championship side and enjoyed working with the Pirates coaches and Pirates players.

“That started a level of development that he’s been able to follow through with the Under-20s’ World Cup and then force his way into our Premiership side. He was in really good form at the start of the Premiership season, but has picked up the odd injury as he’s gone along.

“The Saxons has been a great reward for him, but unfortunately he picked up a couple of injuries in that Saxons game. However, he’s working really hard and will feature for us again before the end of the season.”

With Baxter and the Chiefs more than happy to give youth it's chance, the future indeed looks bright for the Devon club.

“It’s good to have some local lads in the squad, and is a part of what every club in the Premiership needs to be about,” continued Baxter. “The local players have an opportunity to become the best players they can be by mixing with players from other rugby cultures who bring other qualities.

“It’s about the balance of your local players, the age range and experience. You have to try to keep a correct balance between them all. Our balance is probably a little young and a little inexperienced compared to the top-four sides, but that will change over time. We look at our group of players and think we can mature together very well.”

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Dave B

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