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Exeter and England flanker Tom Johnson puts pen to paper on deal to stay with ExeterChiefs until summer 2014

By Western Morning News  |  Posted: February 15, 2013

Tom Johnson

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Exeter Chiefs and England flanker Tom Johnson has signed a one-year extension to his current contract, which will tie him to the club until the summer of 2014.

Johnson, who is currently out of action due to injury, after tearing the medial collateral ligament in his left knee against Leinster in the Heineken Cup last month, admitted it was not a difficult decision to make.

The 30-year-old is currently in his sixth season at Sandy Park since making his debut at home to Sedgley Park in 2007. After agreeing the terms of a new deal, the popular back-row is very much looking forward to his seventh campaign. He said: "It's nice to get the deal done and dusted nice and early, and not be worrying about next year. Once that's done, you can concentrate on the rugby.

"I'm quite happy with how long I've been here. I feel like this is my club. I've put a lot of effort in while I've been here and racked up a lot of games.

"I had my 150th game earlier this season, which I think in the modern era is quite an achievement, and I'd like to get a few more under my belt.

"I know all about the club, so it wasn't a particularly difficult decision. We got round the money issue pretty quickly as we were all in the same ball-park and that's what really slows things down or speeds them up. When you can quickly come to a monetary agreement, then everything else is by the by."

Johnson is also happy to be able to repay the faith and support shown to him by head coach Rob Baxter and the rest of the club since his arrival from Coventry. In that time he has become one of the Premiership's brightest back-row stars, as well as earning international recognition.

But he is not finished there, and he is convinced the ambition which still drives him is shared by all those at the Chiefs.

"I think, before, my ambitions might have been to just stay in the Premiership, but now the club's ambitions have probably pushed mine up," he said. "Now I want to be playing in the Heineken Cup because the club has got us there.

"I know exactly what Exeter have to offer and I want to be part of it. It's not like I'm thinking of having to move to advance my England career as I'm already at that stage – I know Exeter are a good enough club to get me there.

"I know there have been plenty of rumours about me moving on, maybe to one of the more traditional top-four clubs, but I'm happy with where I've got to in my career and that's all down to Exeter.

"I think our team's getting stronger and stronger, and the way we're trying to play is dynamic and exciting to watch. If I felt we were standing still and maybe getting complacent, then it might be a different story.

"But you can see with Rob Hunter signed up to us as a new coach and just the way Rob [Baxter], Ricky [Pellow] and Ali [Hepher] and our physios and conditioners are, they all want to improve. No one is standing still.

"That's the exciting thing for me. We're still in our infancy in the Premiership and we're trying to set high standards, going for the top six and top four, and that's a very exciting place to be."

Chiefs, currently in seventh position in the Aviva Premiership table, will look to make up ground on sixth-placed Northampton Saints in a tough-looking trip to Saracens tomorrow.

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