Susie Appleby spoke of her delight after she today bolstered her Exeter Chiefs Women’s squad with three new international names.
Irish winger Laura Sheehan, together with USA forwards Rachel Johnson and Joanna Kitlinski, have all been added to the Chiefs roster ahead of this weekend’s return to Allianz Premier 15s action against local rivals Bristol Bears.
With Appleby’s options in certain areas limited to long-term injuries and unavailability, the head coach moved swiftly to bolster the playing ranks heading into the start of the New Year.
Cork-born Sheehan is seen as a perfect addition for Appleby on the wing, particularly after she lost American flyer Janine Duncan to a season-ending hamstring injury. The 27-year-old, who played for UL Bohemians, has represented Ireland at both 7s and 15s level.
Meanwhile, back-row forward Johnson won a National Championship in 2014 with Oregon and added a Club Sevens Dream team nomination in 2016. The following year she was the Women’s Premier League top try-scorer and was also named in the Premier League’s Dream Team.
Completing the trio is hooker Kitlinski, 32, who arrives from the Glendale Marlins. She has twice lifted the Women’s Premier League title and in 2015 was voted the division’s MVP.
Commenting on her new arrivals, Appleby said: “It’s brilliant to get some reinforcements into the squad at this time of the season. Jojo and Rachel are both experienced and established forwards in the US set-up and they are both super excited to get over here and play some rugby.
“Jojo will offer a huge amount in terms of her set-piece work, while Rachel is a pure athlete and is used to playing alongside and complimenting the skill-set of Kate Zackary, who is already here with us.
“Laura is a very good winger and I’m really excited to see what she can bring to the squad. She has experience of playing on the 7s circuit, as well as at 15s level, so she is used to being in and around that professional environment.
“She reached out to us in the wake of Janine’s injury and she said she wanted to come here and shoot for a World Cup spot.
“As a club we’re delighted to have all three join us, not just because they bring real experience to the squad, but because they will help to really strengthen us for what is the second half of the season.
“All of them have shown a real desire to be part of our group and I know they’ve all been working hard to not just learn more about our style of play, but about the group and what we are trying to build here as a club.”
The Chiefs Women return to Premier 15s action this Saturday when they take on the Bears at Shaftsbury Avenue. In their last outing, Appleby’s side recorded their third win of the season when they defeated fellow newcomers Sale Sharks 38-0 at Sandy Park.
Courtesy of Exeter Chiefs