England lock Geoff Parling is ready to start a new chapter of his playing career after agreeing terms on a two-year contract with the Exeter Chiefs.
Parling is Exeter boss Rob Baxter’s first major signing ahead of the 2015/16 season and joins from Aviva Premiership rivals Leicester Tigers.
Signed by the Tigers in 2009 from Newcastle Falcons, the 31-year-old has enjoyed a stellar spell at Welford Road where he helped the East Midlands club to twice lift English rugby’s Premiership title, as well as featuring in all three Test matches for the Lions against Australia in 2013.
With 21 England caps to his name, the Teesside-born star has established himself not only as a key figure within the Leicester playing ranks, but also at international level where he is a key figure in Stuart Lancaster’s long-term plans.
His arrival in Devon next summer will be seen as a major boost for the Chiefs, who last summer brought Parling’s former club-mate at the Tigers, Thomas Waldrom, to Sandy Park.
“It’s an exciting move for me and a new challenge at the Chiefs that I’m very much looking forward to,” Parling told Exeter Chiefs’ official website.
“They have a great set-up down there and a young, enthusiastic bunch of boys.
“I’ve spoken to one or two people about the club and the area and it’s all been very positive. Of course it will be a change of scenery for me and my family, but it’s a new chapter in my career and one that we’re keen to take on.”
Having been a key cog in the revered Leicester pack ever since his arrival, Parling has watched from afar as the Chiefs have quietly gone about their business in establishing themselves as a growing force within the Premiership and Europe.
“Since Exeter came up they’ve done things in the right way,” explained Parling, who has amassed 89 appearances and scored two tries for the Tigers to date.
“The first few years they stuck with the core of the squad that got them promoted and since then they’ve added the odd face here and there over the years. There hasn’t been a massive turnover of players and I think that has helped them to develop as a club.
“The Chiefs are also a lot like Leicester, they are very much a traditional rugby club, they have a great support base and it’s a real hot-bed of rugby down there.”
Parling admitted he was also encouraged by the dialogue he shared with the Chiefs coaching staff – and believes a bright future lies ahead for both him and his new club.
“I had a good chat with Rob Baxter and Rob Hunter and they outlined where they see the club heading in the future,” he added.
“A lot of hard work has been carried out on and off the pitch down there and they’ve created a really good environment for the team to work in.
“As I said, I’m looking forward to the challenge ahead, but I have a job to finish at Leicester first and foremost.”