New Exeter Chief Romana Graham keen for big impact
Exeter Chiefs' new Kiwi lock Romana Graham is keen to prove himself in the Premiership after arriving at the Devon club this week.
The 27-year-old became head coach Rob Baxter's seventh signing of the summer after joining from Super Rugby winners Waikato Chiefs.
Graham's arrival helps mitigate the loss of fellow second row forward James Hanks, who is recovering from a broken collarbone.
It will also enable Tom Hayes, who leads the side in today's pre-season friendly against Bristol, to continue his own reintegration to the side with less pressure following a back operation.
And although Graham has not been named in today's squad for the Sandy Park clash, the lock is eager to establish himself at his new club.
Graham has spent his entire rugby life playing in his native New Zealand. He said: "I'm pretty excited to be here and it should be a good challenge ahead and I'm looking forward to it.
"I've been there all my life and played all my rugby there, so it was good to make a change and I'm excited to be at Exeter. I was keen to try something different, a different brand of rugby and get some more game time as well."
Graham admits he knew little about Exeter or his new club before his arrival in Devon, but he is determined to immerse himself in the culture.
He said: "To be honest, I didn't know much about the Exeter Chiefs, but ever since I decided to come over here I have been Googling everything and looking at things to do and it looks like an exciting place to be.
"My first impressions of the club are good. All the boys seem pretty sweet – all the boys have said hello and it is good to be around a group of lads like that. Obviously, I want to try and improve my game and help the club and the team out in any way I can."
Graham expects an equal period of adjustment on the pitch, but he is ready for the challenge. He said: "I looked at a few highlights on YouTube and I remember thinking that some of the boys in this league are pretty big.
"Back home we play to a different style but I'm looking forward to the more forward-orientated game. But it is good to see a few other guys from the southern hemisphere in the mix here and it should be good – hopefully there will be some really good times."
Exeter Chiefs: Arnott; Vainikolo, Whitten, Dollman James; Slade, Thomas; Moon, L Cowan-Dickie, Mitchell; Hayes (capt), Phillips; Johnson, White, Ewers. Replacements (from): Tui, Brown, Rimmer, Whitehead, Yeandle, Carrick-Smith, Horstmann, Blanchet, Conlon, Lewis, Townsend, Sweeney, Jess, Hill, Shoemark, Blanchet.