Under the guidance of Director of Rugby Rob Baxter Exeter Chiefs have rapidly risen to prominence in the English game firmly establishing themselves as one of the top teams in the country as proved by their qualification for the Heineken Cup two years in a row.
Unlike a number of other teams reliant on buying in talent, the Chiefs have achieved much of their success as a group rather than relying on individual brilliance. Key to this team work has been the clubs ability to bring through exciting young talent that have been able to integrate seamlessly into the first team set-up. The clubs continued success in developing youth was no better highlighted than in this summers U20 World Championship were the basis of England’s victorious campaign was based around a spine of Exeter players.
Here we take a look at 5 young players at Exeter who could be set to make a name for themselves this season…
Versatile front row forward Cowan-Dickie was one of the stand-out performers in England’s championship winning team this summer. His hard ball carrying and monstrous defensive tackles making him a tough physical opponent more than capable of making the necessary hard yards. He looks set to compete with Dylan Harley and Tom Youngs for England’s number 2 shirt in coming years whilst simultaneously going head to head with Joe Marler in the bad barnet stakes.
Young fly-half Henry Slade looks set to compete with Gareth Steenson for the number 10 shirt at Exeter this year. Slades boot was key to England’s campaign this year and if he can carry the same form into the Premiership this season he could very well become the Chiefs starting 10 for years to come.
At 6’11” Carrick-Smith is currently the tallest player to have ever appeared in the Premiership. His 20st+ frame is enough to ensure he makes a considerable impact whenever he plays and has earned him the nickname “the bus”. Having made an instant impact for Exeter in this seasons LV=Cup competition he looks set to earn more opportunities in the first team this season.
Scoring a try in England’s final victory over Wales, young Exeter centre Sam Hill looks to be an exciting prospect for the future. The strong running centre has had chance to develop his experience playing with the Cornish Pirates and looks ready to step-up into the Exeter first team in the coming years. His ability to break the gain line could be key to unleashing the exciting talent outside him at the Chiefs.
Despite having just agreed to join the Cornish Pirates on a dual-registration, back-rower Joel Conlon could really make the step up in the next season or two to be the replacement for the ever-impressive James Scaysbrook. Another member of the England U20’s World Championship winning team, Conlon looks set to have a very bright future in the game.
Let us know who you think will make the step up this season…
*Jack Nowell wasn’t included as we felt his call up to the Saxons meant he could no longer be considered a ‘rising’ star