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Exeter Chiefs pair 'coming into prime' - Baxter

By Western Morning News  |  Posted: September 20, 2012

Matt Jess is level with Wasps’ Tom Varndell at the top of the try-scoring charts with four touch-downs

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Rob Baxter believes fans of Exeter Chiefs will get to see the best of Craig Mitchell and Matt Jess in the coming seasons after both signed contract extensions with the club.

The Sandy Park outfit are only three matches into the current campaign but head coach Baxter has not wasted any time securing the services of two of his key players.

Wales prop Mitchell and winger Jess were among 28 players whose contracts are due to expire at the end of this term.

Mitchell, 26, has agreed a one-year extension to his current deal and Jess, who has bagged four tries so far this season, has signed on for another two years.

Baxter believes they are both coming into their prime. He said: "It's great that these guys are seeing where we want to go and what we want to achieve.

"I know they're ambitious players who are probably coming into their prime for what they're going to be as players, so for them to commit nice and early is great for the club and I think it'll be great for the players.

"I'm seeing both of these guys coming on in leaps and bounds and for us as a club to have them for the foreseeable future is great.

"The more guys you can get tied down, feeling relaxed and knowing where they are for a little while, the more guys you have training well and playing well and it's a much more stable environment to be working in."

Mitchell will not be able to celebrate his new deal with a run-out against Saracens at Sandy Park on Sunday as he is set for three months on the sidelines after rupturing a bicep in the 25-24 defeat at London Welsh last weekend.

Jess, however, will be looking to continue his blistering start to the campaign that sees him level with Wasps' Tom Varndell at the top of the try-scoring charts.

His four touch-downs are only one fewer than he managed in 28 appearances last term.

Baxter thinks the 28-year-old is reaping the benefits of his exposure to top-class rugby over the last couple of seasons.

"If you manage guys right, they improve within the Premiership as they get used to the intensity," said Baxter.

"Jessy is one of those guys who is starting to look comfortable in the Premiership now, he's learning as he goes and is picking up try-scoring opportunities that are happening around him. He's popping up in support roles more and more and he's a guy with genuine pace so the more of those positions he gets himself into the more tries he's going to score.

"I'm really pleased with how he's playing but also his character and the way he trains. He's a really good squad guy so all-round it's a really good signing for us.

"We're a team that have helped Matt improve and have moved his game forward.

"He's come into the Premiership with us and is starting to prove himself as a good Premiership player so I think for both ourselves and Matt it's really good that we're going to have him around for another couple of years."

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