Exeter Chiefs preparing for shock raid for international prop

Exeter Chiefs are set to lose Georgian international loosehead prop Nika Abuladze to French Top 14 side Montpellier according to the latest reports across the Channel.

Leading French newspaper Midi Olympique report that Bernard Laporte’s side have agreed a deal to sign the formidable scrummager who only arrived at Sandy Park in March 2023, making the move from club side RC Kochebi. Despite making just 16 appearances for Chiefs after his 2023/24 season was ended early by a knee injury, Abuladze has made a huge impression with his dominant scrummaging displays since making his debut against Montpellier back in April, 2023, as Exeter have reverted to focusing on their setpiece under the leadership of scrum coach Ross McMillian.

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Chiefs have seen an array of stars leave the club for France over the last year with Montpellier in particular already signing number eight Sam Simmonds and tighthead prop Harry Williams last summer. International lock Jonny Gray, who left Chiefs this month but mutual consent, is the latest international-calibre player expected to move to Frace to sign for Bordeaux ahead of next season.

However, should this move transpire it will come as a surprise to many with Exeter confirming 28-year-old Abuladze had signed a deal until the end of the 2024/25 season when he arrived in Devon and Chiefs have also already confirmed the departure of one international loosehead prop with Alec Hepburn joining the Scarlets next season.

On the international stage, Abuladze most recently displayed his prowess at the 2023 Rugby World Cup, featuring in three of his country’s group stage games out in France.