New lock star Salmon aiming for big catch
TOBY Salmon is aiming to follow the Anglo-Welsh Cup route which helped propel Exeter No.8 Sam Simmonds to the current England squad.
The 6ft 5ins 18st 8lbs 24-year-old lock, who arrived from Rotherham Titans in the summer, is relishing the experience and looking forward to today’s visit to Scarlets after marking his Cup debut with two tries off the bench in the 43-28 drubbing of Northampton last weekend.
“It’s fantastic,” said Salmon. “I’m really enjoying my time here. The guys are fantastic and it’s good to get some game time in competitions like this.
“The A-League gives you good game time but when it comes to getting first-team experience this is really good.”
At 24, Salmon has come a little late to the top flight but that does not bother Exeter director of rugby Rob Baxter, who has a proven track record of signing and developing players from the Championship.
Prop Harry Williams, who arrived from Jersey as a 23-year-old in the summer of 2015, has been nurtured to the stage where he is now part of the England squad for the Autumn internationals.
Other current Chiefs forwards with a Championship pedigree include Wales prop Tomas Francis, recruited from London Scottish, former Jersey hooker Elvis Taione, Shaun Malton from Nottingham and Mitch Lees from London Welsh.
In tandem with producing younger players through the Chiefs academy – full-back Sal M’Boge and his replacement Sam Morley both made their senior debuts in the win over Northampton, along with summer signing Tom O’Flaherty from Bridgend and flanker James Freeman from Jersey – it is proving a highly-effective formula.
Salmon added: “Everyone has really invested in these competitions as an important part of our progression as a club. A lot of us have been playing A-League and guys like myself who are new to the club have been waiting to get to get opportunities so this competition is good for us.”
Luke Cowan-Dickie and Dave Ewers return to the squad following longterm knee injuries alongside Aussie international Greg Holmes, who is included for the first time this season.
With 15 players on international duty and a number rested for the brace of PRO14 games in South Africa, Scarlets have named a youthful side with 14 of the starting XV 25 or under.
Tighthead Simon Gardiner and lock Tom Price add experience to a squad that brings together the region’s best upcoming talent alongside exciting prospects from Carmarthen Quins, Llandovery and Llanelli.
Chance: Toby Salmon