Chiefs duo agree new deals

Thu, 18 Jan 2018 11:03
Large ian whitten

NEWS: Both Mitch Lees and Ian Whitten have committed their futures to the Exeter Chiefs.

Just days after long-serving flyhalf Gareth Steenson put pen to paper on a new three-year contract, two of his clubmates have followed suit by agreeing similar terms that will keep them at the club until 2021.

Director of Rugby Rob Baxter makes no secret that his first priority is often retention of players ahead of recruitment and he says keeping hold of two of his more senior stars is paramount moving forward.

"Obviously we're delighted that both Mitch and Whitts have signed new deals," said Baxter. "Both are important members of the squad, so to have them around the place for another three years is fantastic news for us.

"Both have come to us through different routes, but both have taken their opportunity here with both hands. Whitts has obviously been here a little bit longer, but he's played a lot of very high-quality games and been a key part of helping drive us forward as a club.

"For me, it was an easy decision to ask him to stay. From day one, he's a guy you can see who takes his training and his rugby very seriously. When we first looked at him, he was a player who had played a fair bit for Ulster, but he was just below that frontline for them and he was desperate to come somewhere where he would play more regularly.

"And I think by allowing a player that opportunity that is when they not only start to improve, but they also start to thrive in that environment. Anyone who knows him knows he's the last guy to finish training and that he looks after himself very well. It's no surprise he's played a lot of games for us because his preparation and the way he gets himself ready each week is first class.

"Yes, he's one of the guys who likes a beer after the game and enjoy the fun moments we have together, but equally he knows when you come to work, you are here to work extremely hard and drive the culture that we are going to outwork the opposition and try to be a better side every week."

Likewise, Baxter knows Aussie lock Lees, 29, offers an equally importance presence to that of Whitten, 30, who signed for the Chiefs back in 2012 from Ulster.

Recruited from then Championship outfit London Welsh in 2014, Sydney-born Lees is another who has thrived in the Chiefs environment, establishing himself as one of the club's frontline forwards in recent seasons.

Baxter added: "Mitch took the opportunity to come to this country to play professional rugby at London Welsh and as people know, we often look at the Championship as an important breeding ground for players. We took a really close look at Mitch and we liked what we saw.

"He's come in and become a very important cog in our forward machine. Again, he is someone who has taken on board a lot of the lessons that have been asked of him, both from myself and Rob Hunter, and although as a club we'd like to take credit for his development over the past few years, I think you have to hand him a great deal of credit as well because here is a guy who has taken the opportunity given to him, worked hard to improve, and ultimately he’s got better and better.

"I do believe that physically he's still improving, as is his game understanding, and he's a guy who over the next two or three years I would be disappointed if we don't see him keep on improving. If you actually look at his career to date, he's someone who has not actually played a huge amount of frontline rugby, but I know we will look to drive his game forward and equally I know he's very ambitious to play in big games.

"I've no doubt, a bit like Whitts, Mitch will be a key player for us moving forward and that he will help drive standards onwards and upwards here at the club."

Ireland vs Wales
sast: 16h15 | local: 14h15

  • 0 | 0
LIVE
Lions vs Jaguares
sast: 15h05 | local: 15h05

  • 19 | 10
LIVE
FIXTURE GMT VENUE
Sat, 24 February 2018
Treviso v Connacht 12h00 Stadio Monigo
Exeter Chiefs v Northampton Saints 14h00 Sandy Park
Bath v Sale Sharks 14h30 Recreation Ground
Gloucester v Wasps 14h30 Kingsholm
Harlequins v Newcastle Falcons 14h30 Twickenham Stoop
Bulls v Hurricanes 15h15 Loftus Versfeld
Scotland v England 16h45 BT Murrayfield
Ospreys v Cheetahs 17h30 Liberty Stadium
Scarlets v Ulster 19h35 Parc y Scarlets
Sun, 25 February 2018
Zebre v Cardiff Blues 13h00 Stadio Sergio Lanfranchi
London Irish v Worcester Warriors 13h00 Madejski Stadium
Saracens v Leicester Tigers 15h30 Allianz Park
Fri, 02 March 2018
Blues v Chiefs 06h35 Eden Park
Reds v Brumbies 09h00 Suncorp Stadium
Kings v Dragons 17h35 Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium
Ulster v Glasgow Warriors 19h35 Kingspan Stadium
Edinburgh v Munster 19h35 Myreside
Cardiff Blues v Treviso 19h35 Cardiff Arms Park
Harlequins v Bath 19h45 Twickenham Stoop
Sat, 03 March 2018
Sunwolves v Rebels 22h00 Tokyo
Crusaders v Stormers 06h35 Christchurch
RESULT SCORE
Sat, 24 February 2018
Waratahs v Stormers 34 | 27
Crusaders v Chiefs 45 | 23
Sunwolves v Brumbies 25 | 32
Fri, 23 February 2018
France v Italy 34 | 17
Leinster v Kings 64 | 7
Dragons v Edinburgh 12 | 25
Munster v Glasgow Warriors 21 | 10
Rebels v Reds 45 | 19
Highlanders v Blues 41 | 34
Mon, 19 February 2018
NWU-Pukke v UJ 18 | 15
UCT-Ikeys v Shimlas 27 | 32
Maties v CUT-Ixias 75 | 12
NMMU-Madibaz v Wits 29 | 32
Sun, 18 February 2018
Dragons v Treviso 15 | 18
Wasps v Exeter Chiefs 13 | 7
PREMIERSHIP
MORE LOGS
Team P W D L Pts
Saracens 15 11 0 4 53
Exeter Chiefs 15 10 0 5 52
Wasps 15 10 0 5 48
Gloucester 15 9 0 6 42
Newcastle Falcons 15 9 0 6 41
Bath 15 8 0 7 41
Leicester Tigers 15 8 0 7 37
Sale Sharks 14 7 0 7 37
Harlequins 15 6 0 9 32
Northampton Saints 15 6 0 9 30
Worcester Warriors 15 5 0 10 27
London Irish 15 1 0 14 11