Devoto agrees move from Bath to Exeter Chiefs

Ollie Devoto has agreed a move from Bath to Exeter Chiefs

Aviva Premiership Rugby club Exeter Chiefs have announced that they have signed Bath centre Ollie Devoto for next season.

Earlier this week Devoto was named in new England head coach Eddie Jones’ Elite playing squad and in 2013 he won the 2013 Junior World Champions with England U20s.

Devoto rose through the ranks of the Bath Rugby Academy,which he joined in 2012, and is now approaching 80 senior career appearances in Bath colours.

Devoto said: “I’ve thoroughly enjoyed my time here at Bath Rugby. It will always be a special place to me because it’s where I started my professional career and I’ve made some close friends, as well as working with fantastic coaches and players.

“It’s been a really tough decision to leave, but I feel that a change of environment is what I need to continue my development. That said, there’s a long way to go this season and I’m fully focused on doing what I can to help the team achieve our aims.”

“We’re really disappointed to see Ollie go, but respect his decision,” said Head Coach Mike Ford. “We’ve enjoyed watching his development here at the Club, and would like to thank him for all his hard work, which we know he’ll continue to put in until the end of the season.”

The talented playmaker will move to Sandy Park at the start of next season on a three-year deal and is Rob Baxter’s second acquisition for next term following the earlier arrival of Australian prop Greg Holmes.

Having been part of the Bath set-up since the 2012/13 season Devoto admits the time has come for a fresh challenge and he sees the Chiefs as the ideal port of call.

“It’s a good move for me,” said the 22-year-old, who has amassed over 50 Premiership games for the Westcountry outfit.
“Exeter are a very good club and they’ve shown over a number of years that they are very ambitious. I like the values they have created, especially in terms of working hard, and that kind of mirrors what I demand of myself.

“Having played against them a few times over the years, you know you’re always going to be in for a tough game and that you’ll be tested in every area. They are a side built around hard work, but who are also very skilful and who have a number of ways of causing you problems.

“Playing down at Sandy Park, it’s always a great atmosphere and a tough place to visit as a player. Games I’ve had in the past against Exeter down there have tended to stick in my mind, so it will be nice to be on the other side of that.”

And whilst Devoto hopes for a warm welcome from the terraces, his arrival in Devon will see him reacquainted with a number of his former England Under-20s team-mates, such as Luke Cowan-Dickie, Sam Hill, Jack Nowell and Henry Slade.

“It will be nice to have a few familiar faces when I arrive,” he added. “Obviously I know a few of the lads from the Under-20s group, plus Ollie Woodburn is a good friend of mine and he’s told me he’s really enjoyed things since he moved down to the club.

“The likes of Hilly, Sladey, Dickie and Nowellsy, they’ve all come through over the last few years at the club and shown what good players they are. Obviously they’ve been managed really well by the coaching staff, who are now reaping their rewards for the faith they’ve put in them.

“All those guys have worked really hard to get where they have, but looking from the outset you could say that is what sums up Exeter. They are all about working hard for one another and the team ethos they have created is clear for everyone to see.”

Devoto’s move has been warmly welcomed by head coach Baxter, who along with assistants Ali Hepher and Rob Hunter have closely monitored the Yeovil-born back for some time.

And whilst the Chiefs coaching team like what they see, so too does Devoto, who added: “When you play against Exeter it’s always a big ask, you know you’re going to be defending for long periods as their attack is very strong.

“Hopefully, I can help add bits and pieces to things, but I’m under no illusions how tough getting into the team will be. You only have to look at the competition within the backs to see what strength they have.

“They’ve not got to second in the league for no reason, they are a very strong side and it will be up to me to go down there, work hard and challenge for my place like every other player.”

Before Devoto heads West, he still has to wrap up his final year in Bath colours and the player himself has paid tribute to his current club.

“I’m massively grateful to so many people at Bath,” said Devoto, who this week was called into the England EPS squad by new head coach Eddie Jones.

“They were the ones who were willing to give me my big chance and throw me in at the deep end. I’ve had some great times with the club and it will always be somewhere that lies closely to my heart.”

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