Tomas Francis: Prop eyes Exeter title after Wales withdrawal

Tomas Francis
Tomas Francis (left) played for Doncaster and London Scottish before joining Exeter
Aviva Premiership final
Venue: Twickenham Date: Saturday, 26 May Kick-off: 15:00 BST Coverage: Live on BBC Radio 5 live, BBC Radio London and BBC Radio Devon plus live text commentary and match updates on BBC Sport website and app

Tomas Francis says he will put aside thoughts of missing out on Wales' summer tour by helping Exeter Chiefs retain their Aviva Premiership title.

Francis and English-based players Luke Charteris and Josh Adams were ruled out of the Test match in Washington DC against South Africa because the match is outside the international window.

The trio were then released from the squad for the two Tests in Argentina.

"I want to win another Premiership title with Exeter," said Francis.

Exeter's final against Saracens on Saturday will be Francis' last game of the season as he becomes the only Welsh international involved in the English club final at Twickenham. Saracens wing Liam Williams is missing with a shoulder injury.

"I am sure in the off season I will have to think about it but at the moment I am told it can't happen (go on Welsh tour)," said Francis.

"Since then all my thoughts have been on the final.

"When I was told last week, I said it is out of my hands.

"I can't control anything, I have to concentrate on my job here."

Premier Rugby Limited, who represent the English clubs, have not released the English-based players because the match falls outside the international window.

This presents a dilemma for Welsh players in England with Francis' current contact expiring at the end of the 2018-19 season.

The prop has been battling with Samson Lee for the Wales tight-head spot over the last two years with the World Cup looming in Japan next year.

Francis would have a decision at the end of next season whether he would join a Welsh region at the end of the 2018-19 campaign.

The Welsh Rugby Union's policy sees players with more than 60 caps being eligible for selection if they play club rugby outside of Wales.

Special club

Exeter director of rugby Rob Baxter
Rob Baxter led Exeter to their first-ever Premiership title last season

The 26-year-old says he is currently content at the home of the English champions in Devon.

"I am very happy here," said Francis.

"It is a special club and I love it here. Everyone knows the system and that is what makes it so great.

"It comes from Rob Baxter (director of rugby). It is his way or the highway. He knows what he wants. It does not matter who you are coming in, if you don't do what he wants you won't play.

"Thomas Waldron described us as the misfits that work. That is the best way to sum us up."

Francis admits he is more content than a year ago when he was a replacement in the extra time Aviva Premiership final win over Wasps.

"It has been a much better season, I have had more opportunities," said Francis.

"That has come more from my attitude, it has clicked I am a senior player and I have to act like that. My persona around the place has improved."

First-choice front-rower

Francis has managed to establish himself as the number one Exeter tight-head.

"There are four international tight-heads at this club and a position we are blessed in," said Francis.

"I don't think any club has the resources we have at tight-head and that's a good pressure to have."

Francis helped the reigning champions finish top of the league at the end of the regular season and defeat Newcastle in the play-off semi-final.

"It was nice to be top of the table but that means nothing now," warned Francis

"It means we get to wear black and play in the home changing room, that's it.

"We can play well for 23 games and then slip up.

"This match is all that matters. Saracens are a team we enjoy playing against and you want to prove yourself against the best."

Mako match-up

Mako Vunipola scrummages for Saracens
Mako Vunipola (right) has won 49 caps for England

Francis will be testing himself personally against one of the world's best in Saracens and England prop Mako Vunipola.

"He is a world-class operator," said Francis.

"In his position, he is the best around the field and his scrummaging is good where he has become a more attacking threat at the scrum.

"It is always a tough battle. I don't have that ability around the pitch he has, so I try and make him scrummage as hard as possible.

"The more work he has to do at the scrum hopefully the less energy he will have around the field."

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