Exeter hold onto backline trio

Date published: February 27 2017

Exeter Chiefs have secured the signatures of backline trio, Phil Dollman, Olly Woodburn and Michele Campagnaro.

Just days after confirming that front-row trio Shaun Malton, Ben Moon and Carl Rimmer had all agreed to prolong their stays at Sandy Park, it’s now the turn of Phil Dollman, Olly Woodburn and Michele Campagnaro to follow suit.

Italian international centre Campagnaro has penned a one-year deal, while full-back Dollman and winger Olly Woodburn have each committed their futures for at least the next two years.

Head coach Baxter believes all three players not only have a bright future ahead of them, but that they can all improve yet further in terms of their development.

Campagnaro’s decision to sign a new deal will now end on-going media speculation that he was poised to depart Sandy Park at the end of the season.

“I think some people thought there were issues between us, but that has never been the case, and Michele has never wanted to leave, and we have never wanted to let go of him,” Baxter told the Exeter website.

“He is a great guy, he has worked exceptionally hard. He didn’t come in post-World Cup expecting just to jump straight into the team.”

“He knew there were a few things he would have to learn, and even though he speaks very good English, there is a difference between that and being communicated with in the hurly-burly of a Premiership rugby game, and having to process it all very quickly.”

Meanwhile, Woodburn has proved to be a superb acquisition from local rivals Bath and his finishing abilities have made him a favourite amongst the Exeter Tribe.

Baxter continued: “The best thing about Woody is that, the more minutes he plays, the better he gets. He was exceptional against Worcester last weekend, He was plucking kick-offs out of the air and getting us front-foot momentum literally all through the game.

“He is becoming a guy who we can rely on to give us moments in a game that will create pressure and try-scoring opportunities. There is the old adage that good players develop by being in and around other good players and by being involved in big games, and I think that rings true so much for Olly.”

As for Dollman, Baxter believes the Welshman has grown in stature year on year at the Chiefs and although delighted with his contribution, there can be even more to come from the versatile and talented back.

“He was the first player I officially signed on my own as head coach, the first contract I put my name to, and he has done exceptionally well for us,” said Baxter.

“He has played in the midfield for us a number of times in the Premiership, and now people see him as an established full-back, and he is just one of those guys who has added quality to us right throughout our time in the Premiership.

“He is probably one of the most under-rated players we have had here at the club. He has performed at such a high level, has been so durable and consistent, and he has come through the Championship and then the lower ends of the Premiership, into the Champions Cup, and you see him performing in these top-four games and he looks very comfortable.”