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Rob Baxter delighted to see Tom Johnson re-sign

By Western Morning News  |  Posted: February 16, 2013

Exeter Chiefs head coach Rob Baxter oversees training this week as they prepare for today's Aviva Premiership match against Saracens picture: Dan Mullan/Pinnacle

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Exeter Chiefs head coach Rob Baxter was delighted to see England flanker Tom Johnson extend his stay at Sandy Park this week.

The 30-year-old agreed a one-year deal with the Aviva Premiership club and will remain at the Devon club until the summer of 2014.

Baxter, whose side face Saracens in the Premiership today, said: "As a club we're delighted that TJ has extended his contract with us for another year, this despite a lot of talk in newspapers and gossip columns linking him with a move elsewhere.

"As a club there has never been any issues with regards to him moving on, what has taken the time has been more discussing personal terms and making sure things are right for both ourselves and TJ."

Johnson arrived from Coventry in 2007 and has made more than 150 appearances for Baxter's side, scoring 30 tries to help Chiefs establish themselves in the Premiership after promotion to the top flight in 2010.

"TJ's played a key part in our move out of the Championship and then establishing ourselves in the Premiership," said Baxter. "Not only have we seen him grow as a player, but off the field he is a great ambassador for the club as well.

"As I said, negotiations throughout have been very open on both sides and we're pleased to have him on board for another year at least. At no time did TJ ever express any desire to leave us, so when you have a player thinking like that it's often very easy to get things sorted quickly and without too much hassle."

Although Johnson is currently sidelined with a knee injury sustained in the Heineken Cup clash with Leinster last month, he hopes they earn a place in the competition once again next season.

"Now we've had a taste of the Heineken Cup I'd really love us to be back in it next year," said Johnson. "It's going to take a good run at the end of this season to get us to the Heineken Cup slots, and potentially a top-four place. You never know, results certainly went haywire last weekend. We want to retain our Premiership status and stay as a top-six team as a minimum.

"Personally, I want to stay involved in the England set-up as long as possible. I'd like to get a few games under my belt before the end of the season and hopefully be in contention for selection for a summer tour. That will all depend on how the injury goes."

Johnson's contract renewal caps a busy week for Baxter, who has also added current England Under-20s head coach Rob Hunter to his staff, as well as confirming the arrival next season of Gloucester scrum-half Dave Lewis.

However, Myles Dorrian has left to join Bedford Blues on loan for the rest of the season. Johnson said: "I know we've got Dave Lewis, and we've made a lot of re-signings. We're losing some good blokes, but that's just the nature of the beast.

"I've known Myles since we were at Coventry together, so we've played a lot of rugby over the years. So that's a bit sad, but I'm sure our paths will cross again.

"There's never any hard feelings. The game's changed so much now, it's such a short career that you do have to look after number one. Sometimes it works out brilliant and you get a great run at a club, like I have, which I'm very blessed with."

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