The international invasion of new talent heading into the Exeter Chiefs Women’s ranks show no sign of slowing down after head coach Susie Appleby confirmed the arrival of five new faces.
With the Chiefs set to kick-off their first-ever Allianz Premier 15s campaign on Saturday, away to Gloucester-Hartpury, Appleby admits her selection plans have been given the perfect boost with the signings of Canadian quartet Emily Tuttosi, McKinley Hunt, Taylor Black and Olivia DeMerchant, plus Japanese prop Sachiko Katoh.
The quintet are all part of Appleby’s grand plans, which now appear to be coming together nicely having earlier had to deal with all sorts of issues caused by the Covid-19 pandemic around the club.
“As I’ve said previously, setting up a new side is never easy, but during a global pandemic it’s been incredibly tough,” said Appleby. “However, we’re really starting to get there now and the arrival of these five internationals is a huge boost to us ahead of the new season.
“I’ll be honest, I didn’t know a huge amount about Sachiko before she arrived, but having seen videos of her – and having now seen her in training – she is hugely impressive. Not only is she very powerful, but she’s an incredible athlete, and for a prop she has real skills to match her dynamism.
“As for the Canadians, Emily is a very experienced hooker, who has played both at international level and also in the Premier 15s before for Loughborough. She a solid player, her set-piece work is outstanding and she really understands what it takes to play at this level. She told us she was keen to keep progressing her rugby in England and just fancied a change.
“McKinley is another experienced forward, who has a good physique, likes to put herself about on the pitch, and has a massive appetite to learn. We’ve seen already that she is keen to learn and really improve her game, especially as she wants to be part of Canada’s squad for the World Cup.
“Taylor is a fast, skilful fly-half who really understands the game very well. Her knowledge and the way she wants to play, together with a massive appetite to learn, they are all ingredients that excite us as coaches.
“Finally, Olivia, she’s a vastly-experienced prop who has not only captained Canada, but is arguably one of the best, if not the best, in her position in the world. When we knew we were up and running as a club, she was one of the people we really targeted and it’s been a big work on for us as coaches to get her on board.
“Again, she has had experience of playing in the division before with Saracens, so we’ll tap into that and get her to bring her leadership skills into the mix as well.
“Overall, I’m delighted with all five signings. I genuinely believe they will all bring something to the squad because not only are they great players, but they all said they wanted to be part of the club and creating something special here. We feel they will be a good fit for us, so here’s hoping that can play their part.”
Thanks to Exeter Chiefs