Rob Hunter delighted to take new Exeter Chiefs role
Rob Hunter will swap international rugby for the Aviva Premiership, after agreeing to form part of Rob Baxter's coaching team at Exeter Chiefs.
After three highly successful years as head coach of the England Under-20 side, Hunter will assume the role of assistant forwards coach at Sandy Park from the start of April.
Northumbria born and bred, Hunter is a Rugby Football Union Level Four coach and joins the Devon club with a proven track record within the game. Not only did he feature as a player for London Scottish and Northampton Saints, but he also represented both the Army and Combined Services.
As a coach, the 40-year-old initially cut his teeth with the Saints, where he worked alongside current Chiefs backs coach Ali Hepher within the club's Academy set-up, before then moving on to England, where in the past two seasons he has overseen the Under-20 side to successive Six Nations titles.
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"It's a massive honour for me to get this opportunity, especially at a club like Exeter," said Hunter. "They have had a great surge into the Premiership and established themselves amongst the best teams in the country. They have a great group of lads, several of whom I know well from working within the England Under-20 set-up.
"Not only do they have a great culture within, but the ambition of the club is huge. The club is looking to develop their ground and move forward on that front, but equally the coaches and players are hugely ambitious and they have assembled a quality squad.
"I have a huge amount of respect for Ali Hepher and it will be great to work with him again. Equally I am looking forward to working alongside and learning from the likes of Rob [Baxter], Ricky [Pellow], Robin [Cowling] and supporting the staff and players."
Although sad to be departing the international scene with England, Hunter said the time had come for him to take up a new challenge within the game.
He added: "I have had a fantastic time with England; working with some exceptional players and staff over the years, but now I want to test myself within the Premiership. Having that week in, week out challenge of working with a top-quality group of lads against some of the best players and coaches in the world is an opportunity too good to miss."
One man delighted to have Hunter on board is Chiefs head coach Baxter, who said: "Obviously, we are very pleased to have a coach of Rob's quality come to the club.
"We have always got to be looking to develop and that doesn't apply just to the squad, it also applies the off-field squad. Rob Gibson has been doing a fantastic job for us for some time now, but he's going to be more heavily involved with things at Bicton College and with developing their rugby academy, so there was an opportunity for someone to come in and Rob fits that bill perfectly.
"Having Rob come in will help the workload, for sure, but it will also allow us to give more specific coaching to not only the younger guys coming through, but also to the more senior guys as well. I think it will not only broaden our strength within the coaching team, but at the same time I'm sure he will come with a few new ideas and make sure we are focused on doing what we need to do in terms of improving all of our players."
Baxter also believes Hunter's involvement will also help to ease some of the workload on his own shoulders as the Chiefs look to move forward. He added: "Sometimes you need to be careful that things don't become repetitive and people keep saying the same things to the same people. I'm very much aware that can happen sometimes and that's why it's good to freshen things up.
"Also, this season has also shown – especially having so many contracts up for renewal – how much time can get taken up on those sorts of things, so it's important that we maintain a strong focus on how we play and what we do out on the pitch.
"Having a strong coaching group, like we are assembling, will certainly help us do that."