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Rob Baxter sure Tom Johnson will stay with Exeter Chiefs

By Western Morning News  |  Posted: January 28, 2013

Exeter's Tom Johnson

Exeter's Tom Johnson

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Exeter head coach Rob Baxter has assured Chiefs' supporters that England flanker Tom Johnson will be at Sandy Park next season.

The 30-year-old is one of a clutch of Chiefs players whose contracts expire this summer, and he has recently been linked with moves to Aviva Premiership rivals Bath and Leicester Tigers.

However, Baxter is in no doubt that Johnson will be remaining with the ambitious Devon outfit.

"People need not worry about Tom going anywhere," Baxter declared.

"He likes being at Exeter, and we like having him around. I can't stand here now and say there is ink on paper, but there is everything but ink on paper.

"An announcement will be made as soon as we finalise the details of the contract, but as far as I'm concerned, Tom Johnson is going to be an Exeter player next season," Baxter added.

That news will be warmly welcomed by Exeter supporters, who were left disappointed last Thursday when it was announced that Chiefs lock Aly Muldowney will be joining RaboDirect Pro12 side Connacht next season, after signing a three-year deal.

Johnson is currently facing ten to 12 weeks out of action after suffering knee ligament damage two weekends ago in his club's 29-20 Heineken Cup defeat to Leinster, which forced him to pull out of the England squad preparing for the RBS Six Nations Championship. He is expected to be back for the Chiefs in time for the final few weeks of the Premiership season.

Johnson, who has won five caps for England, joined Exeter in the summer of 2007 and has made 129 league appearances for the Chiefs.

Johnson's fellow back row forwards, Kai Horstmann and Ben White, both produced good performances in Saturday's 16-6 LV= Cup defeat at Bath as they build up their game time after long injury lay-offs, and that will help to offset his absence.

"They are up and running and in there fighting and battling now, and they are rugby players again," said Baxter. "That's what happens when you start giving these guys game time.

"We have got some options to cover Tom now, with Ben and Kai being fit, and that is fantastic for us."

There is still no contract news on another Exeter back-row first-team regular, James Scaysbrook, who has been offered a new deal by the Chiefs but has been linked with a switch to Leicester.

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