Tomas Francis: Exeter not rushing to find replacement for departing Wales prop

By Brent PilnickBBC Sport
Marcus Street
Highly-rated 21-year-old Marcus Street has played 40 times for Exeter, mainly as a replacement

Exeter are searching worldwide to replace departing Wales prop Tomas Francis, but could find his replacement close to home, says boss Rob Baxter.

Francis will join Ospreys in the summer after seven years in Devon.

The 28-year-old has to move in order to continue to be eligible for Wales as he is below their 60-cap limit for non-Welsh based players.

"We're not rushing into recruiting anybody, we're having a good look at the market," Baxter told BBC Sport.

"I'm looking at a different tight-head prop from around the world pretty much every day."

But while Baxter and his coaching team are casting their net far and wide, the Exeter boss says the solution could be a lot closer to home in the form of 21-year-old academy graduates Marcus Street and Alfie Petch.

"I'm also aware that we've got good props here. Marcus Street has played numerous England Under 20's games, he's the guy who's coming through as one of England's brightest young prospects and he's played well in some Premiership games for us," added the Chiefs boss.

"It isn't that long ago we scored a pushover penalty try with Marcus Street scrummaging against (Bath's) Beno Obano who's just been called into the England squad. That's only a few weeks ago, so I'm very much making sure I judge it correctly with where the props are we've got here.

"Whoever we recruit has got to be clearly better than those guys, but also we've got to expect them to be better over the next two or three years and that he's not blocking off a player who may potentially become a better player."

Exeter also have South African prop Maks van Dyk, who was signed in November on an initial one-year contract with an option for a second year.

"We haven't seen him play on the field yet, he's coming on, he's learning things, at some stage he's going to get his opportunity," said Baxter, of the former Leinster, Toulouse and Sharks forward.

"In this tight-head position the one thing I am going to make sure 100% is we don't risk signing the wrong player. If we sign a player it will 100% be the right player."

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