Planet Rugby

Johnson, Welch sign new Exeter deals

02nd January 2014 06:59

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Damian Welch and Tom Johnson Exeter Chiefs HEC 2013

Staying put: Damian Welch and Tom Johnson

Exeter were boosted by the news that back-row Tom Johnson and lock Damian Welch agreed new terms with the Premiership club.

England international Johnson has put pen to paper on a new three-year contract, while Welch has extended his stay in Devon for a further two years.

Signed in 2007 from then National League One counterparts Coventry, Johnson has since gone on to establish as an integral part of the Exeter squad in recent years, amassing 168 appearances in total and scoring 27 tries.

"It's nice that it will bring up ten years of playing at the Chiefs," said the 31-year-old.

"It's a really good milestone to achieve, especially in the professional era. With the way the game is going, not a lot of players will achieve something like that, so I'm really proud of that."

Johnson admitted his decision to stay in Devon was somewhat "simple" - especially as the ambitious Chiefs have shown that they are more than capable of holding their own at the top level.

"Getting the deal done now means I have three and a half seasons of rugby left, which is great," he added.

"That's a long time in a player's career, so now it means I can just knuckle down with the hard work and help continue to the curve the Chiefs are on."

Welch, who was signed ahead of the 2011/12 season from Welsh region Scarlets, has adjusted well to life in the West Country and has installed himself as a senior figure within Exeter boss Rob Baxter's first-team squad.

With 30 appearances and six tries already to his name, the 31-year-old is determined to build on what has been a solid start to life at Sandy Park for the towering second-row forward.

"I've loved being here since I got here," said Welch.

"It's a great atmosphere, a great group of lads and great coaches. It was a pretty easy decision to make when you're told they want to keep you on - it's a no brainer.

"It's definitely somewhere I've enjoyed being and hopefully somewhere I can enjoy being for another couple of years at least."

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