EXETER CHIEFS delighted international Santi staying

Santiago Grondona says he’s excited to be part of the future of the Exeter Chiefs after he put pen to paper on a new deal with Devon's only Premiership club.

The Argentinian international arrived at Sandy Park back in November on an initial deal until the end of the current campaign. However, his on-field performances have been hugely impressive and its little wonder that Chiefs Director of Rugby, Rob Baxter, has moved swiftly to tie down the future of the 23-year-old forward.

Grondona, who came on in the 72nd minute of Exeter's 22-17 home defeat by leaders Leicester Tigers yesterday, has now featured nine times for the Devon club this season, scoring his only try so far in the recent away game at Worcester Warriors.

“I’m very happy to stay here,” said Grondona. “It’s incredible news for me, because I am enjoying everything so far and, hopefully, it will get even better next year. Since arriving, the club, Sandy Park, the boys, it’s all been amazing and I am learning new things every day from the coaches and the other players.

“Right now, we are in an important moment in the tournament. We’re in the top four, pushing hard and needing to win, so we’re preparing for every game like a final. Being here, I know the Premiership is a very tough league with very good players, but it’s what I want to do.”

Helping Grondona to settle into life at Sandy Park has been team-mate and compatriot, Facundo Cordero, who he was quick to praise for his input.

“Facu has helped me a lot,” added Grondona. “He picked up the first day, brought me to the club and showed me around, told me the calls and helped with everything. Having him here has been very good for me but, as I said, all the boys and all the staff have been amazing.”

Certainly, Baxter likes what he sees from the all-action back-row forward and he was delighted to confirm the player was extending his stay this week.

“Obviously we’re delighted that Santi is staying,” said Baxter. “He came here initially on what you would call an ‘opportunity contract’ because we had a few injuries, but he has really proved his worth, shown the qualities we know he has, and he’s learning all the time. For us, it was an easy decision to extend his stay.

“We know he will want to go away and play with Argentina and we obviously want him to play well enough for us to get selected by Argentina, but we also know he will come back and be available for large parts of the season, including through the Six Nations period, so again it’s about putting together that squad that makes things all work together.

“At the moment, I think we have only really scratched the surface in terms of what Santi can bring to the team. I think he is improving all the time, he’s fitting in more and more, and I actually that although he looks good at the moment, the growth and the development of him as a player is massive.”

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