Scotland captain Stuart Hogg and England trio Jack Nowell, Henry Slade and Luke Cowan-Dickie are among the 30 players to sign long-term deals at Sandy Park
The Premiership leaders announced new contracts for 30 squad members following the salary cap cut agreed last month. The new salary cap comes into effect from the 2021/22 campaign and Exeter have wasted no time in making sure they fall in line ahead of the new season which is set to resume in August.
It’s a huge statement of intent from the Devon club and Baxter, who said: “I’m delighted with what has happened. It seems strange really, because there has been an awful lot of news coming out from other clubs in regards what is happening around pay cuts, players leaving, players staying, yet we have got on with our business pretty quickly.
“In the end, we used that period between the salary cap change being discussed and when any new contract that would be allowed in the new salary cap system to be finalised to sort something like 30 contracts.
“They are all different and not one of them is the same. It’s meant us having individual discussions with players and agents, but in the end I feel like we’ve all got what we need out of it. They are not all four-year deals, nor are they all one-year deals, but we feel we have done the right thing in kind of backing this group of players.
“This group have worked extremely hard for us and whilst there are always one or two changes each year, everyone knows we are relatively fluid and that we don’t tend to change a lot of players. We have got a group here now, many of whom are around that age group of 26-27, and barring one of those tragic serious injuries that can happen in rugby, we feel we should get a really good three or four years out of this group.
“Actually, with the majority of them, we feel they will continue to improve and we will indeed get their best rugby years out of them. I think that gave me a lot of confidence to push through with this - and when I spoke to Tony [Rowe] about it, it gave him a lot of confident to allow me to talk to the majority of the players about would they like to think about extending their contract with us.”
As is the case each season, Baxter keeps close tabs on the futures of all his stars, including contract expiry dates and he admitted that even before the current changes - and the impact of COVID-19 on the sport - he was already in discussions with a large number of players, whose contracts were due to expire at the end of the 2020/21 season.
“You are always looking to the future and this time of year is normally when you tend to start talking to players about extending contracts,” added Baxter. “What happened with all these changes merely accelerated the process a little bit for us.
“As I said, I’m very happy with what we have put in place. Not every player has got an extension, but those who haven’t received an extension, it’s kind of irrelevant because they are players who may well be thinking ‘let’s see how the next year goes and where I stand’.
“With those guys it doesn’t mean they will be leaving, but because we have ourselves in a salary cap position where we are pretty well settled for a few years, we also have that little bit of room that if a player does decide to move on, we can replace them.
“Looking at the work we’ve done, we feel we have a group here now who can achieve an awful lot together and it feels fantastic that we have them the opportunity to stay together and do that.”
While the Premiership leaders have tied down most of their squad going forward Australian pair Nic White and Greg Holmes have both returned to Australia while England international Matt Kvesic has returned to former club Worcester Warriors. Centre Sam Hill has also left Sandy Park to join Premiership rivals Sale Sharks on a two-year deal.
The club have also made a few signings with Australia playmaker Jack Walsh agreeing an initial one-year deal with the club arriving in the Westcountry from Australia where he has been playing his club rugby at Manly Marlins while Santiago Cordero's younger brother Facundo has also joined the side.
SENIOR SQUAD PLAYERS WHO HAVE SIGNED NEW CONTRACT EXTENSION ARE: