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Baxter expects more to follow after Cowan-Dickie and Whitehead sign to Exeter Chiefs

By Western Morning News  |  Posted: November 16, 2012

Luke Cowan-Dickie (left) and Chris Whitehead will stay at Sandy Park until at least 2015 after agreeing new deals picture: exeter rugby club

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Exeter Chiefs head coach Rob Baxter expects a large number of his current squad to follow Chris Whitehead and Luke Cowan-Dickie in signing new deals with the club.

Both forwards are committed to the Aviva Premiership club until 2015 after agreeing terms this week.

Baxter said: "I'm hopeful that in the next month or two that we are able to announce the signings of more first-team players.

"We have got a lot of guys to work through and they all take time. Hopefully, these two are just the tip of the iceberg and we will see a lot more over guys signing on."

Whitehead, 26, joined the Chiefs three years ago from Wasps, having impressed while playing for London Welsh in the Championship.

The hooker admits he would have signed an even longer deal, if one had been made available.

He said: "It is unfortunate the club did not offer me a five-year deal because I would have snapped their hand off, if that was the case.

"It has been a lot of hard work but it is a dream come true to sign for another two years.

"Rugby can a short career so I am so happy to be here. It is such a nice place to be – a great club that is really ambitious. We're looking to go places and it will be great to be a part of that.

"I'm very settled in terms of my home life here. My wife is happy and she has a job, my family love it here and come down all the time.

"In the city, people recognise you and are very happy to help. I could not wish to be at a better club."

Baxter has also been delighted with Whitehead's progress in challenging Neil Clark, Simon Alcott and Jack Yeandle for a first-team place at Sandy Park.

He said: "Chris didn't come up with us from the Championship but we brought him up from that division.

"In the summer we were promoted, we had a good look around the Championship and we thought he was the pick of the hookers at the time.

"He has gone from strength to strength. It has not been easy for him because he has had to compete against some very good hookers, who I also hope will be around here next year.

"He has been a regular starter in the Premiership and the Heineken Cup and is a good guy around the squad."

England Under-20 prop Cowan-Dickie has featured for Exeter Braves in the A League and played in the Chiefs' LV= Cup win over Welsh at Kassam Stadium last weekend.

He still had another year to run on his Academy contract but an additional 12 months now gives him chance to push for a regular place in the Chiefs' match-day squad.

"It puts me in a good position, knowing that I'm safe for a couple of years," he said. "I can knuckle down and dig in.

"Hopefully, over the next two years I can build towards a place on the first-team bench. It was good to get on last week and get 15 minutes and gain more experience. own to the line.

"It is always your dream to play in the Premiership. These LV= games give you a chance to put a marker down and show what you're about.

"The coaching here is good and it is such a nice place. I feel like I could stay here for a good few years."

Baxter hopes to see Cowan-Dickie progress from youth international to senior international during his time at Sandy Park.

He said: "Luke has been part of our academy now for quite a long time and he is a guy who we see as having massive potential.

"We want him to stay an Exeter player for as long as possible.

"He is starting to come to the fore around the senior players. In the A League games and last week, off the bench, we started to see exactly what we want from him.

"He is a current England Under-20s player and he is one I would like to think we could help become a full England international."

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