'It was a really difficult decision to leave' - Exeter Chiefs prop to make United Rugby Championship switch

Loosehead prop Danny Southworth will leave Exeter Chiefs in the summer to join United Rugby Championship side Cardiff Rugby ahead of the 2024/25 season.

The 25-year-old Devon-born frontrower, who came through the youth ranks at Barnstaple RFC before joining Exeter's academy, made his debut in 2020 against Wasps and has gone on to represent the club in the Premiership Rugby Cup, Gallagher Premiership and Champions Cup, amassing 25 appearances for Chiefs to date while scoring two tries.

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Discussing his departure, Southworth said: “It’s been amazing playing alongside some of the same boys that I’ve grown up with and they will be friends for life. I’ve absolutely loved my time at Exeter Chiefs, so it was a really difficult decision to leave.

“To make my Premiership debut was a dream come true. And to know I’m leaving Chiefs having had the honour of being a part of the squad that won the Premiership Cup and to have played in a quarter-final in Toulouse – those are memories that will last a lifetime.

“I’d like to thank [director of rugby] Rob Baxter and all the coaching staff for having signed me at a young age and for helping me to develop throughout my time here.

“I’ve spent six seasons at Sandy Park, so I feel like a new challenge is a great opportunity for me. It will be very hard to leave but I feel like testing myself in a new environment will be good for me at this stage in my career. So, I’m really excited to get started.”

The departure of another loosehead prop from Chiefs ranks raises some questions over the make-up of the Exeter frontrow next season with the club already confirm the departure of international Alec Hepburn to the Scarlets and Georgian international Nika Abuladze reportedly being chased by Montpellier despite still being in contract at Sandy Park.

Cardiff head coach Matt Sherratt said: “We’re really pleased to bring Danny to the club to further enhance our environment and competition at loose-head. He is Welsh-qualified and has ambitions to play international rugby.

“He has come through a quality program down in Exeter and earned his place in their squad by performing as a young man in National One and the Championship, which says a lot about his motivation and hunger to succeed. He is a former number eight so can contribute around the field and his set piece, in particular his scrum, is excellent.

“He has featured a lot for Exeter this season and did very well coming on in the Champions Cup knockout stages and last 4 rounds of the Premiership. He will compete with the likes of Corey Domachowski and others for the number one jersey.”