EXETER Chiefs forwards coach Rob Hunter has praised the links between the club and Exeter University.

In the current crop of players, there are no fewer than 27 players with university links involved with the first-team set-up at Sandy Park. 

Hunter is highly complimentary of the credits the university game can provide young players. 

“The university route is a fantastic route. It allows players to mature and grow up. We’ve got so many university boys around the first team who are putting their hands up to be involved. Gareth’s [Elliott] now there running the programme and it’s great for us, " said Hunter. 

“We were here last Wednesday evening watching the game against Durham which was a fantastic advert for university rugby. It was physical and fantastically supported. There was loads of noise, so they were getting the real experience.

“The quality on display in terms of speed and understanding of the game is fantastic. It’s really well coached. This is what we need in this country – we need strong university and junior clubs. We don’t just need to keep all of our eggs in one basket.  

“The university allows them the time to grow up and just have a bit of a laugh because it gets so serious for them so early these days. So, it’s important that we preserve the reason that they play and protect the game as a whole.” 

Tom Cairns, Ben Hammersley, Immanuel Feyi-Waboso and Ross Vintcent are four prime examples of players with university association who have excelled already this season for Chiefs. 

All four will be looking for the opportunity to be a part of Rob Baxter’s matchday squad this Sunday, November 5, as Chiefs host Bristol Bears at Sandy Park (3pm).