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Exeter confirm the signing of centre Sean O'Brien from Connacht

The 23-year-old had impressed for the western province in recent times.

O'Brien has been in strong form for Connacht recently.
O'Brien has been in strong form for Connacht recently.
Image: James Crombie/INPHO

REIGNING PREMIERSHIP CHAMPIONS Exeter have confirmed the signing of 23-year-old centre Sean O’Brien from Connacht.

O’Brien has already completed his move to Exeter, arriving in the UK earlier this week.

The Mullingar man had been in strong form for Connacht in recent months, although it’s understood his move to Exeter was sealed before O’Brien had a run of starts for the western province.

The former Ireland U20 international spent three seasons in Connacht’s academy but was not handed a senior deal and will instead look to make his mark with Rob Baxter’s Exeter.

“It’s a great new challenge for me,” said O’Brien. “I’ve had a great spell there [in Connacht], but now is the time for me to go and test myself in the Premiership.

“Exeter are a club who have been winning trophies, they play a great brand of rugby and the culture here looks great, who wouldn’t want to join them?”

Exeter director of rugby Rob Baxter flagged the qualities that had caught his eye and cited club legend Ian Whitten as an example of what O’Brien – whose older brother, Conor, is on the books at Leinster – could achieve in the coming years.

Baxter believes O’Brien will immediately be in contention for senior starts in Exeter.

“Obviously, we are always on the look out for talented, young players and recruitment is an ongoing process,” said Baxter. “Looking at our squad going forward – and the positions where you could potentially need cover – you could see potential around that midfield area for us to get a bit light.

“That said, I think Sean is one of those players who can push for a place straight away. We’ve seen quite a lot of him when he broke into the Connacht first team and he looks to me – when I code out the games – a player who has a lot of the characteristics that we look for in our players

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“He’s a very good defender, deceptively quick, strong on the ball and when you break his game down, it’s actually very pleasing. He’s also in that right age range, early 20s, so he is one of those recruitment positions that kind of work all ways round for us.

“The last guy we brought from Ireland similarly was Ian Whitten and you look at how good he has been for us, the amount of games he’s played, and what an important figure he has been at the club, so there were a lot of reasons we went for a guy like Sean.

“He ticks a lot of boxes and I’m just really glad we can get him here early, bedded in, and starting that process of becoming an Exeter Chief.”

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Murray Kinsella

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