Arscott & Phillips agree two-year Exeter deals

Luke Arscott and James Phillips are the latest names to pledge their future to the Exeter Chiefs after both men agreed new two-year deals with the Aviva Premiership Rugby club.

The former Bristol duo only joined Rob Baxter’s side in the summer following last season’s Championship Play-Off final, but already both have established themselves as key men within the Chiefs squad.

The pair’s decision to extend their stays at Sandy Park means Baxter has now seen a number of his core squad commit to the club’s long-term strategy. They follow Tom Johnson, Haydn Thomas, Neil Clark, Gareth Steenson, Richard Baxter, Brett Sturgess, James Hanks and James Scaysbrook in agreeing new contracts.

“I’m really happy here,” said Phillips. “I couldn’t think of being anywhere else, it’s a great club. It was an easy decision to make to stay here.”

Likewise, Arscott – who is in his second stint with the Devon club – had no real hesitation in putting pen to paper, he added: “It’s been really good so far and I’m really enjoying it. Obviously winning games helps, plus the experiences we have had in Europe have been fantastic. It’s been great to be a part of it.

“For me it’s not about my personal performance, it’s about doing the best job I can for the club. Hopefully I can keep doing that for the rest of the season and up until the end of this new contract.”

Having come face to face with both men last season in the Championship, head coach Baxter quickly identified the duo as players he wanted to have on board as the Chiefs prepared to tackle English rugby’s top flight for the first ever time.

“Very quickly after the Play-Off final we knew they were the couple of Bristol player we wanted to get,” said Baxter. “We were looking for a full-back for more of the season and Luke was always up there, it was a key position for our recruitment.

“With Richie [Baxter] having the injury he had when we were playing the finals, it was important we signed a No.8 because we knew he wouldn’t be fit for the start of the season. We had watched a lot of James at Bristol and it didn’t take long to decide he was the player we wanted.

“They have both come in and played well, and what’s nice is that they can both improve as players.”

Like others who have committed to the club this season, both Arscott and Phillips are glad to have their futures sorted at an early stage.

“It’s nice to have it all sorted out this early in the season,” said Arscott, who has started 16 of the club’s 20 matches so far this season. “It means I can concentrate on the rest of the season and going into next season.”

For Phillips, meanwhile, his immediate aim is to now break back into the starting XV. The imposing forward was in stunning form at the start of the campaign, but then broke his leg in the away game at Harlequins.

It meant he missed the next 11 matches, but he has since returned to form and his now hopeful of getting back amongst the starting mix.

He said: “I want to get back to where I was at the start of the season and kick on from there.

“I just want to be involved in games and get as much game time as I can. We’ve got two LV= games now and we can kick on from those going into the Premiership.”

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