Stevenson heads back to the Chiefs
25th January 2016
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The 31-year-old forward, who spent two seasons at Sandy Park between 2007 and 2009, returns to the Westcountry from Guinness Pro 12 outfit Ulster Rugby.

With Chiefs head coach Rob Baxter keen to bolster his second row options following significant injuries to Damian Welch and Mitch Lees in recent weeks, the arrival of Stevenson could not be better timed as the Devon club look to push on both in the Premiership and European Champions Cup.

“I’m delighted to be back at the Chiefs,” said Stevenson, who featured 62 times during his previous stay, scoring one try in the process. “The place is still the same in a lot of ways, but the small differences that have happened are pretty noticeable.

“Since I’ve left the club have established themselves as a real force within the Premiership and each year they seem to go from strength to strength. For anyone on the outside, they are a real example of how to get into the Premiership and stay there.”

Having been recruited by former Exeter Director of Rugby, Pete Drewett, back in 2007, Stevenson was part of a Chiefs squad that twice pushed hard for promotion out of the old National League One.

Sadly, it was not to be for the Chiefs and in 2009 the Larne-born forward was snapped up by Harlequins with whom he spent two years playing in the Premiership with. In 2011, Ulster came calling and Stevenson headed back to his homeland.

In the years that have followed, the 6’7, 117-kg forward has represented the Irish province on 89 occasions, nine of which have come this season in both the Pro12 and European Champions Cup.

Exeter’s need for reinforcements up front, however, saw Baxter cast his net out within the game and Stevenson was more than happy to answer the call to arms.

“I have brilliant memories from the first time here, so it was an easy decision in that respect,” he said. “Knowing the club, knowing a few of the boys, it all helps and should hopefully make my transition all that bit easier.

“At the same time, leaving Ulster is tough as again I’ve had a lot of good times there as well. Obviously a lot of my friends and family are still there and because I’ve been there a while, I felt like part of the furniture.

“Sometimes, though, you need to freshen things up and I’m delighted to be back here at Exeter.”

Stevenson is due to train with his new team-mates for the first time tomorrow and he could well come into the reckoning for Sunday’s Premiership trip to Worcester Warriors.

“The aim is just to get up to speed with things as quickly as possible,” added Stevenson. “I’ve worked with Rob [Baxter] before, so we know how one another work. When I was here last time, he seemed to get the best out of me and I’m hoping it will be the same this time.”

About the Author

Mark S

Member since: 5th January 2016

Hi, I am Mark Stevens, Media and Communications Manager for the Exeter Chiefs

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