Exeter Chiefs sign front row trio

Exeter Chiefs head coach Rob Baxter has expressed his delight after another three members of his squad agreed to extend their stays at Sandy Park.

Front-row trio Chris Budgen, Chris Whitehead and Ben Moon become the latest in a line of Exeter players to commit their futures to the Aviva Premiership Rugby outfit in recent weeks.

Budgen has penned a new one-year contract, whilst Whitehead and Moon have both signed on for a further two years.

It means that the Chiefs and Baxter have now agreed deals with 13 of their current crop of stars, whilst a number of others are also close to following suit in the coming days and weeks.

“I’m really pleased,” said the Exeter head coach. “In these three players we’ve got a microcosm of the whole squad.”

“They are three guys who are at contrasting times in their careers; they come from different backgrounds; they’re at different ages and all have varying experience. That said, they have all come together to be part of what is a very good team environment.

“If you look at them, Chris at 38 has been there and seen it all when it comes to rugby. He’s also seen active service in Afghanistan, yet he seems to have a new lease of life with every season we give him.

“Ben is really starting to show some form, he’s a young guy who came through our academy, has been here a while and is starting to thrive in Europe and in the Premiership. In the last month to six weeks he’s made massive strides with the extra game time we’ve given him and you can see he is thriving off it.

“Finally, Chris has come in and impressed everyone with his enthusiasm and work ethic. He runs around the club like a buzz bomb and he flies around in training, but those guys are infectious and keep everyone on their toes.

“Between the three of them it shows that we can take people from different environments and at different stages in their careers and get them to buy into what we want to achieve.”

“We have always said that if players are willing to buy into what we are about then we can have success here. As a group that is what we want to push forward, not just for this season, but in years to come as well.”

At 38 years of age, Budgen is the elder statesmen within the current playing ranks. However, the former Northampton Saints prop says he is loving being back in English rugby’s top flight and producing the goods for the Chiefs.

“I’m really pleased to have got another year at the club,” said the New Zealander. “It takes a lot of weight off your shoulders and means I can just concentrate on my rugby.

“Being back in the Premiership again is obviously great. It’s nice to visit some of the old grounds again and get on a few European trips, plus you’re playing against some real top boys each week. We’ve worked hard over the last couple of years to get where we have, so it’s nice to see that hard work come off like it has.”

Like Budgen, both Moon and Whitehead are ‘over the moon’ to be continuing their playing life with the Premiership newcomers.

“I’m over the moon with my new contract,” said Whitehead, who joined in the summer from London Wasps. It’s something I’ve wanted for a while. Ever since I arrived here I’ve really enjoyed myself and I knew I wanted a future here. Things are going well and it’s a great club to be around.

“I kicked myself initially when I only signed for a year, but at the same time I wanted to prove myself during that year. I think I have done that and all my hard work has been honoured with a new two-year contract.

“I know I still have plenty to work on, but this is a great place to develop your game. Coaching wise I don’t think I have ever learnt as much as I have within this coaching environment, it’s just fantastic.”

Academy product Moon, who claimed his second try of the season in last weekend’s LV= Cup victory over Leicester Tigers, added: “Obviously it’s good

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