Exeter Chiefs boss Rob Baxter has revealed that the club are close to agreeing a deal to sign Kiwi Romana Graham.
Baxter's squad is short on quality second rowers at present due to a number of injuries, and as a result the Chiefs boss is looking to bring in reinforcements in the shape of Waikato lock Graham.
"With Tommy still in the end stages of his rehab now, but still not at 100 per cent, and James Hanks breaking his collarbone again we we're looking a little thin on the ground," Baxter explained to the club's official website.
"We've made the decision to strengthen our resources there and so we've gone back to a guy we've looked at before and we quite liked. "He was one of a number of people we looked at at the end of last season as a possible player to bring in and quite liked what we saw. At the time our thoughts were that we were okay strength-wise with Tommy having his operation and hopefully making a recovery, James Hanks was expected to be fully fit for the start of the season and we'd signed Don Armand. We'd also sent Will Carrick-Smith over to Australia to get some more game time and we had Damian Welch and Dean Mumm so we decided we were okay."
Exeter have turned to their New Zealand namesake the Chiefs in a bid to fill the void.
"We're lucky that Waikato are prepared to release him from his ITM contract and he's going to come over here on a year's contract," Baxter added.
"We'll go from there with him. What he's got to do is prove himself to be a Premiership starter and then it's really in his hands how much rugby he plays and how he goes. We're quite comfortable with what we've seen. He is a big guy, but we think we can work on bit of his conditioning and add a bit to the amount of actions he makes in a game. He's a big, physical, explosive kind of guy and I think he'll add something to what we have there in that department.
"We're hoping, as long as everything goes well, that he'll be over here before the start of the season. We're expecting him to take some part in our pre-season games and be up and running. "He's been involved in the Super 15 squad, although he hasn't played much rugby within it. His focus has been on preparing for the ITM Cup, so the timing of where he is conditioning-wise is pretty good for us so we're not anticipating many problems getting him ready to play rugby."