Aviva Premiership: Ollie Atkins to replace Dean Mumm at Exeter Chiefs
Australia-born lock heading to Devon club on a two-year deal in the summer to replace former Waratahs team-mate
Edinburgh Rugby lock Ollie Atkins will replace former NSW Waratahs team-mate Dean Mumm at Exeter Chiefs next season.
The 26-year-old will swap the Scottish capital for the West Country in the summer as Australian international Mumm returns to the Waratahs with hopes of selection for the Wallabies’ Rugby World Cup squad.
I’ve heard fantastic things about the club and, having visited Sandy Park myself, it looks a great facility, and a great place to go and play my rugby.
Ollie Atkins on his summer move to Exeter Chiefs
Tasmania-born Atkins, who also played for Sydney University and Western Force, has made 30 appearances to date since joining the Gunners in 2013, and became a Scotland A international in 2014, qualifying through his father from Dunbar.
He heads to Sandy Park with a glowing recommendation from Mumm after their time together in Sydney, and admits he is looking forward to the challenge of playing in one of the world’s most competitive leagues.
“I’m very excited about the move,” Atkins said.
“I’ve heard fantastic things about the club and having visited Sandy Park myself, it looks a great facility, and a great place to go and play my rugby.
“Like a lot of people, I’ve watched how the Chiefs have gone from strength the strength over the last couple of years.
“The style of rugby they play is really good, and you can see that all the players really work hard for one another out on the pitch.
“I spoke to Dean when I came down, and he gave me an insight into the club and the area.
“I’ve also played in the same club competition as Mitch Lees back home, and I know Byron McGuigan from his time up here in Scotland.
“The Premiership has created a reputation as being one of the best leagues in world rugby, so it’s going to be a great challenge for me.
“I think I’ll enjoy mixing it with the top sides in English rugby on a weekly basis.
“You only have to look at the teams and the players to see how competitive it is for anyone who features in it.”
With Edinburgh vice-captain Grant Gilchrist ruled out of the season since October with a broken arm, Atkins has enjoyed a decent run in the Gunners’ match-day 23 this season, used in conjunction with fellow locks Anton Bresler and Ben Toolis.
The 6ft 6in, 18st 6lb unit has made seven starts in his 15 appearances for the Guinness PRO12 club this season, helping the Gunners remain in contention for a top six finish and reach the European Challenge Cup quarter-finals.
I’d like to thank Edinburgh for all they have done for me. They are a great club, and I’ve made so many good friends and the set-up they have is fantastic.
Ollie Atkins on leaving Edinburgh
The Chiefs are also in the quarter-finals, and if both clubs come through their respective matches and also win their semi-finals, Atkins could meet his new club in the final at The Stoop in May.
With Baxter having led the Chiefs to consecutive LV= Cup finals, the West Country club have set their eyes on further glory.
A superb season to date has seen them rise to second in the table to challenge the established clubs in England’s congested top six, albeit nine points off league leaders and defending champions Northampton Saints.
But it is off the pitch, as much as on it, that sees the Chiefs continue to move forward with England international and Leicester Tigers lock Geoff Parling and Benetton Treviso’s Italian centre Michele Campagnaro already confirmed signings for next season, as well as Bath Rugby wing Olly Woodburn.
And Atkins insists that Chiefs head coach Rob Baxter didn’t have to give him the big sell to convince him to sign up.
“Rob didn’t really have to sell the club to me, a club like Exeter does that itself,” Atkins said.
“You only have to look at their performances and their results to see they are a club that are moving in the right direction.
“Also speaking to other players, they only have good things to say about the place, so I’m really looking forward to moving there in the summer.
“At the same time, I’d like to thank Edinburgh for all they have done for me.
“They are a great club, and I’ve made so many good friends and the set-up they have is fantastic.
“Obviously it’s sad whenever you move on, but this is a new chapter in my career and it’s one that I’m keen to take on.”