Wales wing takes up Chiefs challenge

Thu, 24 Jan 2013 11:29
Large tomjamescardiff Large tomjamesospreys Large tomjamesharlequins

After seven years with Cardiff Blues, Wales wing Tom James has decided to take up a new challenge by joining Exeter Chiefs.

After seven years with Cardiff Blues, Wales wing Tom James has decided to take up a new challenge by joining Exeter Chiefs.

The 25-year-old has agreed a two-year deal with the Premiership club and is Exeter Chiefs head coach Rob Baxter’s first signing for next season.

James’ capture will be seen as a massive boost to the Chiefs, who have already been hard at work tying down new deals for the likes of Brett Sturgess, Luke Arscott, Will Chudley, James Hanks, Carl Rimmer, Chris Whitehead and Phil Dollman in recent weeks.

With over 100 league and cup appearances and 39 tries for the Blues, James not only has a proven track record at club level, but also on the international stage where he has to date won ten caps for his country.

James says the opportunity of testing himself in a new environment was a key factor in his decision to swap rugby life at the Cardiff Blues for that with the ambitious Exeter Chiefs.

“Signing for Exeter Chiefs is a great move for me,” said James. “They are a team that I’ve watched come up to the Premiership over the last few years and do really well.

“I’ve had a fantastic seven years with the Blues and I am very grateful to have been given the opportunity to play for them and for the support I’ve been shown over my career.

“There are many highlights I’ve had, including winning the Energy and European Challenge Cups, but I felt the time was right for a fresh challenge.

“Exeter are clearly an ambitious club and having talked to the coaches about where they want to go and also the plans for the stadium, I felt I wanted to be a part of it all and experience something different.”

Although James has previously tackled English sides in both domestic and European Cup competitions, he says the opportunity of facing the elite of the European Premiership on a weekly basis is something he is keen to experience.

“I’ve spent most of my career playing in the Pro12, but I think playing in the Premiership will definitely challenge me in different ways. It’s an incredibly tough division and the intensity you can see is there every week.

“As I said, I’ve watched Exeter come up into the division and I like the style of attacking rugby they play. They’ve shown not just this season, but also last year as well, that they can compete with all the top sides.

“This year they were put in a tough European Cup group, yet they beat the Scarlets home and away, and they gave both Leinster and Clermont a run for their money as well, so I’m looking forward to being a part of it all.”

Although James has not featured for Wales since November 2010, the Rhymney Valley-born back says he still harbours hopes of playing on the international stage.

“I’ve not really set myself any real aims as yet, all I want to do initially is settle in, try and get myself in the team, and look to score some tries. Of course I would love to play for Wales again, but to do that you need to be playing well for your club and that will be the main objective for me.”

And James is aware he will have a couple of friendly faces already in the Chiefs camp to welcome him into life at Sandy Park. Flank Ben White is a former Blues’ team mate of his, whilst prop Craig Mitchell was on the same Welsh tour as him back in 2009.

Talking about the signing, Baxter said his new recruit will help offer additional firepower to his attacking arsenal for next season.

“Obviously we are delighted to have got Tom on board,” said Baxter. “Each year what you have to try and do is progress and move forward as a squad. We’ve had a good look at Tom over a period of time and for us it’s difficult to ignore proven try-scorers, who have got a very good ability to break the gain line.

“One of Tom’s biggest attributes is his ability to beat that first tackle from almost any scenario and I think that is the biggest qualities you need when you come up against big, strong defences.

“He is a very professional trainer, he’s in exceptionally good physical nick; he’s incredibly quick and, as I said, he has a great ability to beat the first defence and those are key attributes for us.”

Cardiff Blues Director of Rugby Phil Davies commented, “It has been a pleasure to work with Tom over the past eight months.

“He takes a very professional approach to his training and conditioning and has been a real asset to the team over a number of years and to me personally this season.

“However, we understand his reasons for leaving and wanting to face a fresh challenge and we wish him the best of luck with his rugby career at Exeter Chiefs.

There are currently no matches being played
FIXTURE GMT VENUE
Fri, 06 May 2016
Crusaders v Reds 07h35 Christchurch
Brumbies v Bulls 09h40 Canberra
Griffons v Eagles 15h00 Welkom
EP Kings v Blue Bulls 16h00 Port Elizabeth
Sat, 07 May 2016
Sunwolves v Force 05h15 Tokyo
Chiefs v Highlanders 07h35 Hamilton
Waratahs v Cheetahs 09h40 Sydney
Leopards v Boland 12h30 Potchefstroom
Griquas v Border 13h00 Kimberley
Sharks v Hurricanes 13h00 Durban
Pumas v Namibia 13h00 Mpumalanga
Golden Lions v Free State Cheetahs 13h00 Randburg
Wasps v London Irish 14h30 Ricoh Arena
Worcester Warriors v Saracens 14h30 Sixways
Bath v Leicester Tigers 14h30 Recreation Ground
Gloucester v Northampton Saints 14h30 Kingsholm
Harlequins v Exeter Chiefs 14h30 Twickenham
Newcastle Falcons v Sale Sharks 14h30 Kingston Park
Zebre v Dragons 15h00 Stadio Sergio Lanfranchi
Munster v Scarlets 15h00 Thomond Park
Ospreys v Ulster 15h00 Liberty Stadium
Connacht v Glasgow Warriors 15h00 Sportsground
Edinburgh v Cardiff Blues 15h00 BT Murrayfield
Leinster v Treviso 15h00 RDS
Kings v Blues 15h05 Port Elizabeth
Sharks v Western Province 15h30 Durban
PRO12
MORE LOGS
Team P W D L Pts
Glasgow Warriors 21 14 1 6 71
Connacht 21 14 0 7 69
Leinster 21 15 0 6 68
Ulster 21 13 0 8 64
Scarlets 21 14 0 7 63
Munster 21 12 0 9 58
Ospreys 21 11 1 9 54
Edinburgh 21 11 0 10 53
Cardiff Blues 21 10 0 11 52
Dragons 21 4 0 17 26
Treviso 21 3 0 18 20
Zebre 21 4 0 17 19