Ian Whitten to leave Ulster to join Exeter Chiefs

Exeter Chiefs have signed Ulster and Ireland centre Ian Whitten for the start of the 2012-13 season.

The 24-year-old, who has two Irish caps, has penned a two-year deal.

"Testing myself in the Premiership is going to be great. It's a very tough league and every week the challenge is there for you to take on," he said.

Whitten has played 61 times for Ulster in the Magners League and Pro12, and in Europe, and has scored six tries since making his debut in 2008.

He played two games for Ireland against the USA and Canada on a tour to North America in 2009.

"It is always sad to move on from a club, especially because I've had a lot of good times at Ulster," he said.

"But I see this as a new chapter for me in my career and I want to try something different.

"You can see Exeter are a club with real ambition and are moving in the right direction."

Exeter boss Rob Baxter was keen to strengthen his centres, which have been hit hard by injuries this season to Sireli Naqelevuki and Josh Tatupu.

"All-round he suits us very well, he's quick enough to play on the wing but also big enough and physical enough to play in the midfield," he said.

"We really liked him when we met him, he came in and did some testing and proved to be a really powerful guy.

"I think he's a good player who is still developing. He's played a lot of rugby for Ulster, he's got a couple of caps and is there or thereabouts in Ireland.

"I've no doubt quite a few teams were looking at him and for him to decide to come to Exeter is fantastic for us and hopefully we can develop his game further and he can really enjoy playing in the Premiership and whatever European competition we're involved in."

Ulster flanker Willie Faloon and winger Simon Danielli are also set to leave Ulster at the end of the season.