Baxter opts for Mumm as captain for Chiefs' new campaign
Exeter Chiefs head coach Rob Baxter has admitted that injuries to his second-row forwards led to him signing Romana Graham.
The New Zealand-born lock joins from the Chiefs’ namesakes in Super Rugby and will help Baxter fill the void left by fellow second rows James Hanks, who is recovering from a broken collarbone, and Tom Hayes, following his back operation.
Hayes will also be relived of the captaincy, with Dean Mumm set to take over ahead of the new Premiership season.
Graham, 27, is set to join the Devon club on a year-long deal subject to a visa being granted for the player and his wife.
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Baxter said: “We need to get the visa situation sorted out for him and his wife, and hopefully we can get him over here as soon as possible.
“It will be official as soon as the visa is in place and the flights are booked. We are pretty much there and we will confirm as soon as the paperwork is signed and sealed.
“We looked at him a little while ago when we were looking at second-row options.
“We ended up bringing in Don Armand but with the on-going situation with Tommy Hayes – his back has not yet completely settled down from his operation – we then have James Hanks with his fractured collarbone. That put a little bit more pressure on our second-row resources than we initially anticipated.
“We went back to have a second look at Romana and we have been able to make things work with his club. We should be able to get him over here for the start of the season.
“It works because we were initially interested in him and had done a fair bit of work on him, so it was a relatively easy decision to go back and try and get him again, once James broke his collarbone.”
Baxter has also taken the opportunity to change his captain.
He said: “It was a very tough decision and there were a few reasons for it.
“Tom has done a fantastic job in the time he has been captain, but we are still a little unsure of his injury situation.
“He had a major back operation at the end of last season.
“His rehabilitation has gone pretty well and he is back in full training, but there are still some issues about when we are going to get him back to 100% fit.
“We are getting close to the season now and it is very important to get our leadership situation sorted out.
“Dean has shown some fantastic qualities in the time he has been with us, he is experienced and I think the time is right for making the change – that’s no reflection on Tom’s abilities as a captain.”