Exeter Chiefs have today added to their playing ranks with the capture of promising fly-half Jack Walsh.
The playmaker has agreed an initial one-year deal with the current Gallagher Premiership leaders, arriving in the Westcountry from Australia where he has been playing his club rugby at Manly Marlins.
Welcoming the 20-year-old on board, Chiefs’ Director of Rugby, Rob Baxter, said: “He is one of those guys who has ended up here probably on the flip side of what was going on with COVID-19. We were looking at seeing what options were around and what would fit in and Jack came up. Although he’s been based in Australia for a while, he’s EQP [English qualified player] and he was playing club rugby and age group rugby over there.
“You watch him and you can see there is something there about him. There’s a bit of spark, there is something special and initially we started to think of him as someone who could come into our squad for the 2020/21 season, but actually things progressed away from us a little bit because things developed for Jack in Australia, moving into the Waratahs Academy and offers from them.
“Then what happened with COVID, those options moved away from him, so effectively he was someone who was on the market, went off the market, then came back on the market again! We have relooked at things and he is very much jumped an opportunity to come, initially for one year, to see how things go, see how he settles in and we get to have a good look at him.
“In some ways it’s almost like an extended trial period for him. I think it’s a fantastic opportunity for him and a fantastic opportunity for us. To get a young EQP player over here, one with bags of talent, is great. Now, let’s see what kind of rugby he can play.”
Walsh, who only arrived at the club this week, said: “It’s awesome to be here. The facilities are unreal and the boys and the coaches have all been so accommodating, so it couldn’t have been a better way to start.
“Everyone I have spoken to prior to coming here couldn’t speak highly enough of the place. I share the same agent as Nic White and he said to me if you want to become a better rugby player, go join the Chiefs!
“As a fly-half, coming over here and playing in different conditions, I’m sure it’s going to help me improve my game. Having a few other Aussies here at the club will help the settling in process, but it’s been a tough opening with training, especially having been stuck in quarantine for two weeks!
“That said, it’s all good. The boys play a high tempo game, they look sharp and that’s what you want.”
Baxter also hinted that Walsh won’t be the only new face to arrive in Devon this month. In a cheeky message to the club’s supporters, he added: “Jack isn’t the only newcomer coming in. Interestingly, we have another name who we will be announcing in a week or two’s time whose name will have everyone licking their lips.”