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Page last updated at 15:37 GMT, Friday, 18 April 2008 16:37 UK

Five depart Exeter as Pugh signs

Junior Fatialofa
Junior Fatialofa is one of five players leaving the Chiefs (Getty)

Five Exeter Chiefs players are to leave the club at the end of the season, including Premiership-bound centre Junior Fatialofa.

The 27-year-old Kiwi has been courted by a number of top-flight clubs.

Adam Staniforth, Simon Jenkins and Craig Dunlea are also leaving, while flanker Gary Willis is retiring.

Meanwhile, the Chiefs have signed Wales international flanker Richie Pugh, 24, who will arrive at the club from London Welsh in time for next season.

Exeter director of rugby Pete Drewett describes Fatialofa as an "outstanding player" who he respects for wanting to play rugby at the highest level.

"My hope is that should we reach the Premiership in the near future, we would be able to lure Junior back to Sandy Park. The door will certainly be left open for him and I wish him well in his achieving his career goals," Drewett said.

Utility back Staniforth is leaving at the end of the season for the Cornish All Blacks and hooker Jenkins has signed for Doncaster, while prop Dunlea will rejoin his family in New Zealand.

Willis, 39, is retiring after scoring 32 tries in 273 appearances during his 10 years with the Chiefs.

A recent shoulder injury has hastened Willis's decision but the father of two was already close to hanging up his boots.

"It's the right time for me and I don't think I will miss it. I have done it for so long, a change will be good. I have played a lot of rugby and my body has had enough," he said.

Richie Pugh
Welshman Richie Pugh will joins the Chiefs for next season (Getty)

Meanwhile, Wales Sevens captain Pugh will arrive at Sandy Park in June, and is familiar with National League One - having played for London Welsh since October.

Drewett believes Pugh, who has also played for the Ospreys regional side, has a lot more to offer and is a very welcome addition to the Chiefs squad following the retirement of both Willis and Tony Walker.

He said: "We are delighted to attract an international player to Exeter Chiefs in what is already a very competitive back row.

"I have been impressed by Richie's enthusiasm and obvious desire to come to Exeter to achieve things for the club."

see also
Exeter Chiefs v Coventry (Sat)
18 Apr 08 |  English
Nottingham 24-14 Exeter Chiefs
07 Apr 08 |  Rugby Union
Injured Chief hangs up his boots
03 Apr 08 |  Rugby Union

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