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Johnson happily extends Chiefs stay

Fri, 15 Feb 2013 11:23
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A lot of it is to do with the area and the boys
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Exeter Chiefs forward Tom Johnson says he was more than happy to put pen to paper on a new deal with the Premiership club.

The England international has penned terms on a new one-year contract with Exeter head coach Rob Baxter, extending his stay at Sandy Park into a sixth successive year.

With 153 appearances and 30 tries to his name, the 30-year-old forward has quickly established himself as one of the club's key performers since his arrival in 2007 from Coventry.

Not only did Johnson help the Chiefs get promoted out of the Championship in May 2010, but for the past three seasons he has been a virtual ever-present in the Exeter back row as they tackled the demands of English rugby's top flight and European competition.

His impressive on-field form has not only won him many plaudits, but also the attention of England head coach Stuart Lancaster, who last June awarded him his first senior international cap on the tour of South Africa.

Against the Springboks, Johnson featured in all three Test matches before adding to his tally in the year-end internationals against Fiji and Australia. However, a knee injury sustained in the club's European Cup encounter against Leinster last month curtailed any hopes of him being involved in the current Six Nations Championship.

Already well on the road to recovery, Johnson is now looking to the future and continuing to play his part in the rise of the Chiefs.

"I'm very happy and it's nice to still be at the club," he said. "This is my sixth season here and you can see the club is going in the right place. Not only have we got big plans for off the pitch, but on the pitch it's equally exciting for all of us as players. We've not only got a strong nucleus of the squad together again for next season, but we've got some exceptional youngsters coming through as well.

"All around you can see we are building things for the future and it will be nice to be part of all of that."

Johnson is the latest in a line of current Chiefs to have agreed new terms and brings to an end media speculation that he could be on his way at the end of the season.

"I'm really happy down here," he added. "A lot of it is to do with the area, which I'm very fond of, and the boys here at the club. Both those things were important to me as was staying within the current England set-up. Exeter has helped to get me to that position, so I didn't really want to go to another club and almost start from fresh again.

"I know what goes on here at the Chiefs, the routines and everything, and that seems to suit me. The hard work all the boys put in each day, our game structure, the club itself, it's all things that have helped get me the recognition I've had, so I was more than happy to stay here."

As for his rehab from injury, Johnson remarked: "I've got about five or six weeks left. Jamie Fulton [our physio] is pushing me hard, but we're not trying to do too much, too quickly.

“The medical and rehab staff here at the club are first class and they are keeping me in check, simply because if you skip corners and don't do things in the right order, sooner or later you are going to fall foul of something.

"I'll continue to work hard over this next block and hopefully it won't be too long before I'm back playing for the Chiefs again."

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