Planet Rugby

Exeter sign up Australian lock

10th April 2014 08:24

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mitch lees exeter chiefs

Carrier: Mitch Lees

Exeter Chiefs newcomer Mitch Lees says he is relishing the thought of challenging himself in the Aviva Premiership next season after he today agreed a move to the Devon club.

The 25-year-old forward, who has penned a two-year deal with the Chiefs, joins from Championship side London Welsh and is the latest name added to the Exeter roster ahead of the 2014/15 season.

Just a week after confirming the arrival of prop Tomas Francis from London Scottish, Sydney-born Lees - who is equally at home in the second row or back-row - follows suit.

At 6ft 6in and almost 120kg, Lees is known as a hard running forward with an impressive turn of speed. He made his senior grade debut for Eastwood in 2010, having joined the club as a colt.

Lees would go on to make over 100 appearances for the club, including captaining them to Shield Shute success in 2011, with victory over Sydney University in the Grand Final, to end the club's eight-year wait for a shield title.

During his time Down Under, he was twice selected to represent Sydney in the annual fixture with GrainCorp NSW Country Gold Cockatoos in 2011 and 2012 - a game which showcases the best talent in the Shute Shield and NSW Country competitions.

Whilst his impressive performances also saw him selected for the ACT Brumbies A team in 2013.

"I'm really excited by the move, I've had a great season with London Welsh and really enjoyed my time there, but moving to the Chiefs is an opportunity I couldn't turn down," said Lees.

"This is only my second year as a professional player, so this move has come a lot earlier than I imagined it would have done. Exeter are a great club, one of the top sides in England, so to get the chance to come to play for them is a big thing for me."

"We see him as a big, ball-carrying lock. Guys who can play other positions are always good, but that's where we see him playing," said Exeter Chiefs director of rugby Rob Baxter.

"He's not been in a professional environment very long so we think he's a guy with a good deal of improvement in him. I consider him one of the best ball-carrying back-five forwards in the Championship, both in terms of his numbers and the quality of his carries.

"We think good Championship players can make good Premiership players.

"You want to add quality at the top end sometimes, but you also want to make sure you appreciate the quality of some guys who aren't playing Premiership rugby yet because they can do a very good job in the Premiership.

"Looking at what Sam Dickinson has done at Northampton, he filled a very similar role at Rotherham to what Mitch does at London Welsh. Potentially these guys can have a big impact in the Premiership and that's what we're looking for from Mitch, but we're also aware there's a fair bit of development to come."

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