Exeter Chiefs have this morning announced the signing of Bath player Ollie Devoto on a three-year contract.
Devoto will play the remainder of the season at The Rec, and will join up with the Devonshire club at the beginning of next season.
Bath had reportedly offered the 22 year old a new contract in December, but decided to move elsewhere having not played as much rugby as he would have hoped. Bath’s signing of utility back Dan Bowden last month seeming to be the nail in the coffin.
On the Exeter Chiefs website, Devoto said: “It’s a good move for me.
“Exeter are a very good club and they’ve shown over a number of years that they are very ambitious.
“I like the values they have created, especially in terms of working hard, and that kind of mirrors what I demand of myself.”
Devoto is one of seven uncapped players who were named in England’s Six Nations squad earlier this week.
He joined the Bath Academy at the start of the 2012/13 season, and has been playing his rugby there ever since. Having broken into the first team two seasons ago, he has made close to 80 appearances. Devoto also played the majority of the Aviva Premiership Final in May, as he replaced the injured Anthony Watson in the first ten minutes of the game.
Devoto was also part of the victorious Junior World Championship in 2013 with England. He played in the final off the bench in a 23-15 win over Wales. His new teammates Hepburn, Cowan-Dickie, Slade, Hill and Nowell all started in that match.
The acquisition of Devoto is a smart and canny one from the Exeter Chiefs head coach, Rob Baxter. Devoto has some good experience in Europe and the Premiership, and his development is moving along nicely. The decision of Eddie Jones to include him in the squad earlier in the week proves that he has a lot of potential.
Gareth Steenson, the current Fly-Half at the Exeter Chiefs will turn 32 this year. It is expected that Baxter has signed Devoto to play at outside-centre. When the hugely talented Henry Slade becomes Exeter’s Fly-Half after Steenson retires, or moves on, there will be a spot at 13 to be filled. Devoto is 6ft 4in, and so he should be a perfect fit for the outside-centre role. Although Jack Nowell has done remarkably well when he has moved off the wing into the centres, as seen most recently at Sandy Park in their bonus point thrashing of top European side Clermont, it seems Devoto will take up that spot.
Having played Slade at 13, Baxter has had two kickers in his back line. This brings versatility and a different dimension to a team. Devoto can also kick, so the second kicker role can be filled with his boots.
Exeter, and Baxter, do a great job at getting the best out of a player. A notable example is also of a former Bath player. Olly Woodburn never previously set the world alight with his performances. But a man of the match accolade in Europe, and three tries in seven appearances, of which four he started, suggests Woodburn is finally reaching his potential. Furthermore tighthead prop Tomas Francis joined Exeter at the beginning of last season from London Welsh. Last year was his breakthrough year, earning him a place in the Aviva Premiership team of the year, and also a place in Warren Gatland’s match day 23 at the World Cup.
Therefore Exeter will expect to reap the rewards of a highly talented youngster for years to come. Devoto slots in very nicely at 13, and is sure to make a big impact for Exeter, as well as England.