Aviva Premiership: Ollie Atkins will suit how we play rugby, says Baxter
Exeter Chiefs head coach believes his latest signing for next season has a lot of potential and will fit in at Sandy Park
Rob Baxter believes new signing Ollie Atkins will suit Aviva Premiership rugby when he joins Exeter Chiefs in the summer.
The Chiefs head coach has named his fourth new signing for the 2015/16 season just days after it was confirmed that captain Dean Mumm will return to Australia.
We seem him as a guy with a lot of potential, who will suit Premiership rugby and how we play it.
Rob Baxter on Ollie Atkins
Edinburgh Rugby lock Atkins, 26, who has made 30 appearances for the Guinness PRO12 club since joining them in 2013, will replace his former NSW Waratahs team-mate on a two-year deal.
Baxter admits that the club were aware that Mumm could leave the club to return home, and had been considering potential replacements should the situation arise.
A recommendation from Mumm, and a scouting report from analyst Simon Norris, prompted Baxter to take a closer look at Atkins, who played for the Waratahs against the British and Irish Lions in 2013, and the West Country club stepped up their interest in the Scotland A international once it was known Mumm was returning to the Waratahs.
“Ollie is actually someone that Dean mentioned, having played with him back in Australia,” Baxter said.
“He felt he was a promising young player with a great deal of promise and then our analyst, Simon Norris, who keeps a close eye on the PRO12, also happened to mention he had seen a young lock that he felt had a couple of decent performances.
“That led us to take a closer look, and analyse things a bit more closely and, when we learnt Dean was going to leave, we made an approach and things came off.
“We have looked at Ollie’s game closely, and we had him down here for a good meeting, and he has a lot of qualities that will work very well among the group here.
“He is a bit younger than Dean, he has a great engine and is a real 80-minute player.
“He gets through a great deal of work and, having watched him play and talked to him, there is the potential to add a lot to his game.
“He isn’t exactly like-for-like, but he has a very high work-rate and a strong set-piece game.
“To find a like-for-like replacement, you would have to scour world rugby and find a player with 33 caps for his country, and there are not many of them knocking around.
“But we seem him as a guy with a lot of potential, who will suit Premiership rugby and how we play it.”
England international Geoff Parling will boost Baxter’s options in the second row when he makes a summer move from Leicester Tigers, and would expect to be a first-choice when not on England duty, while Atkins can expect to challenge for a place in the Chiefs side.