The 25-year-old back is Baxter’s ninth new addition to the playing ranks at Sandy Park, joining the Devon club from Aviva Premiership rivals London Irish on a one-year deal.
Never one to rush into the market just for the sake of bolstering his numbers, Baxter has diligently gone about capturing the Redhill-born player in a short space of time.
Having lost speedsters Tom James and Fetu’u Vainikolo at the end of last season, the Chiefs drafted in Ollie Woodburn from Bath to help fill one of those voids during the summer - and Byron McGuigan was retained following an impressive first season in Exeter colours also during the off season.
But with Jack Nowell and Michele Campagnaro likely to be missing for the Rugby World Cup, Baxter was keen to ensure he had enough firepower at his disposal to deal with the opening weeks of the new season and beyond.
As always, the Chiefs coaching team have scouted their new recruit closely and Baxter is impressed by what he sees from Short, who has also played in the top flight with both Saracens and Wasps.
“People will be aware that we lost some quality back-three players last season so, as I have said before, we have had some space in our squad for a back-three player,” explained Baxter. “The move has happened relatively quickly – over the last 10 days to two weeks really.
“Although we have been keeping an active eye on the market, James became available quite late and it shows that it pays off to be patient and wait to see what happens sometimes. In a lot of ways, James ticks a lot of boxes for us. He’s also the right age and is English.
“We have looked at signing him before. We showed a strong interest in signing him when he was at Saracens several seasons ago, so we have done work on him previously. That meant we could catch up on him quite quickly when we knew he was available.
“It works very well for us for several reasons. He is an intelligent guy and we ask a lot from our players in terms of game understanding and adapting on the hoof, so that helps. He has also been used to a similar defensive system at Saracens to the one we use.
“He also has a lot of pace so that is very important and is something we had highlighted to be looking for. He often breaks first tackles and is an exciting player and finisher.”
And having won the Premiership title back in 2011 with Saracens, even scoring a try in the final against Leicester Tigers at Twickenham, Baxter knows his patient approach means he is getting a player who has plenty to offer.
He continued: “I am really pleased we didn’t rush into any decisions by trying to fill our back-three too early. In my mind, exactly the right guy has come along at the right time and we are able to get him here.
“Sometimes you have to roll the dice and wait a little bit. It wasn’t too difficult for me though. There weren’t too many candidates we really liked the look of at the end of last season.
“I think that is why we often say we won’t sign people just for the sake of it – it has to fit us and we have to have genuine reasons to do it and not just to fill gaps in our squad. We are quite happy to back our academy guys to come in and do a good job – they always have done in the past and gone on to feature in the first team.
“James was playing a fair bit of first team rugby when he was at Saracens and his preference was to stay there and fight for his spot. Over the next couple of years it didn’t quit work out for him, but we kept an eye on him at Wasps and London Irish.
“We have been very happy with some of the fundamentals of his game at London Irish, so we are happy to sign him and look at him in our own environment. He was under contract at London Irish, but they made it clear he was up for early release when we started talking to them. The reasons for that are between James and London Irish, but it meant there was an opportunity for us to have a look at him.
“James was very keen to come on down and get stuck in. It is a year-long contract, so it’s an opportunity for him to have a look at us and us to see what he is about longer-term.”
Member since: 10th July 2012
Hi, I am Dave, I run thebestof Exeter along with my colleagues. If you want to promote your business or event, get in touch with us on 01392 349 130.