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Aviva Premiership
Chiefs sign Welch from Scarlets
ESPN Staff
May 10, 2012
The Scarlets' Damian Welch looks to force an opening, Northampton Saints v Scarlets, Heineken Cup, Franklin's Gardens, Northampton, England, November 18, 2011
Damian Welch on the charge for the Scarlets against the Saints © Getty Images
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Players/Officials: Damian Welch
Tournaments/Tours: Aviva Premiership | RaboDirect PRO12

Exeter Chiefs have announced their seventh signing ahead of next season with Scarlets lock Damian Welch the latest to commit to the Premiership side.

Welch has penned a two-year-deal and has experience in both the RaboDirect PRO12 and the Heineken Cup. With Peter Short retiring and Chad Slade departing to French Division Two side Oyonnax, Welch will link up with fellow new recruit Dean Mumm in the Chiefs' engine room.

For Chiefs boss Rob Baxter, it was third time lucky when it came to recruiting Welch. "We've been looking at Damian for some time, I think it's the third time I've spoken to him about potentially coming to Exeter," Baxter said. "Initially I had a good look at him before he started playing professional rugby at Cardiff, didn't quite think he was a fit for us at the time.

"He got a contract with the Cardiff Blues and pre him joining the Scarlets I had another chat with him but at the time he was thinking there were potentially some Wales caps there, he was playing very well. I've kept an eye on him all along and when I found out quite recently the Scarlets were prepared to release him from the second year of his contract we got onto things very quickly. He came down, did his testing again and he really is a great athlete."

But with second-row Tommy Hayes one of the standout locks in the Premiership this season and Aly Muldowney also shining, Welch will have to work for his spot in the side but could capitalise on Mumm's expected absence.

"Dean Mumm could be away at the start of the season as it looks potentially that his form will pull him into the Championship squad with Australia," Baxter said. "We need bodies there and we want to get as good bodies as we can.

"People rate the second-rows we have here. Tommy is the skipper here and has led the team fantastically, plays consistently well and gets selected every week. Hanksy, when he avoids injury, gets plenty of game time too and Aly has grown and grown in his time in the Premiership. He's got a tough job to break in, there's fantastic competition, but that's what you need. Injuries do come along and when they do you've got to be able to put good players on the pitch."

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