Kevin Barrett admits he is “excited” at the prospect of returning to Exeter Chiefs this summer. The talented scrum-half has agreed to re-join Rob Baxter’s side after two seasons with Aviva Premiership rivals Saracens.
The 30-year-old has agreed a two-year contract with the Devon club and is the first confirmed capture by Baxter as the Chiefs prepare to bolster their ranks for the 2011/12 campaign. With Baxter having re-signed a large percentage of his current first team squad on new long-term contracts, Exeter’s head coach has been relatively quiet in the recruitment stakes until today.
Baxter has made no secret of the fact that he will bring in a number of new faces to Sandy Park, but says all his dealings will be done as and when the club and players are ready.
Having previously spent four seasons at the Chiefs, amassing 94 games and 18 tries, Barrett moved to Sarries in 2009 where he has since made just 11 appearances to date.
A key figure in the England Sevens set-up in recent years, Barrett says he is now ready to focus his attentions fully on the 15-man game and sees his return to the Westcountry as the perfect opportunity to further enhance his game.
He said: “I’m very excited about the move. I spent four very enjoyable years at the club and I’m looking forward to being a part of the Chiefs again. I have gained a lot of experience from being at Saracens and from my time with the England Sevens. I am relishing the chance, however, to play for the Chiefs at Premiership level.”
With Barrett set to team up with the Chiefs later this summer, he will at least be welcomed by a number of familiar faces both on and off the field. A number of players and staff still remain at the club from his previous spell and he believes that he will help him settle back into his old surroundings.
“It will be great to get the chance to play with some old faces,” he added. “Plus I’m looking forward to meeting the new players who have helped bring the Chiefs to where they are now. Personally, I am very impressed at the way the Chiefs have adapted to Premiership life. However, I am not surprised at how well they have done. The club has an incredible work ethic and I always knew Exeter would thrive in the Premiership once they got their chance.”
Already Barrett, who made his Chiefs debut against Plymouth Albion in September 2005, has talked in detail with Baxter about his future role, stating: “Rob has expressed to me that he wants to play a high tempo game and hopefully the assets I bring to the Chiefs will contribute to the success of the club.”
Welcoming Barrett back to Sandy Park, Baxter said: “We’ve obviously kept an eye on him and it’s a position that Kev filled very well here before. He has probably been disappointed with the amount of chances he has had at Saracens, but he has been there between two international scrum-halves and to be fair to him he did concentrate on Sevens for a while.
“That has finished for him now and he wants to concentrate purely on 15s. We feel comfortable with it because we know Kev, he’s got a good character; he’s a hard worker and that is very important to us.
“I know both Ricky [Pellow] and Ali [Hepher] are really happy with his arrival because they know he is someone they can work closely with. He suits us; he’s a good tempo scrum-half; he’s got good pace; he’s a good defender and we just feel he is a really good fit for us.”
Like so many of the names Baxter brought in ahead of this season, the Exeter coach feels Barrett still has a point to prove in terms of playing in English rugby’s top flight.
“He has still got an awful lot to prove and that is very important to us,” added Baxter. “He’s been frustrated with the amount of game time he’s had at Saracens, but we know he can train hard; we know he can do the conditioning work we do and we know he is a good character. We feel he is a player we can work with to keep improving. Half-backs are a massively important part of the team, everybody is aware of that, so to get those decisions right is very important.”