FORMER RGC forward Sean Lonsdale has signed a fresh long-term contract with English giants Exeter after reaping the rewards of a gamble to leave Wales.

The 22-year-old, who can plan at lock or in the back row, moved to the Chiefs in 2016 after coming through the ranks at the Colwyn Bay club and going to Rydal Penrhos School.

Lonsdale, born in Manchester with a Welsh mother, had loan spells with Taunton and Plymouth Albion before making his Chiefs debut in January 2018.

He has gone on to become an important figure in Devon, making 31 appearances and scoring three tries.

“Sean is one of those stories you really like, rugby-wise,” said director of rugby Rob Baxter. “He kind of came as an academy player, although he didn’t actually come through our academy.

“He took a chance by leaving Wales and investing in that change of rugby environment.

“He came to us and bought into what we wanted to do, almost as an academy player. He’s done his time, so to speak, and has comes through a revered time and played in some big games for us.

“He’s still young, getting involved in games now, and he’s got that ability to play right across the back five, which has made him a really valuable member of the 23 on numerous occasions.

“It’s one of those things you like to talk about as a success story, in a way, as a young player who has come here and worked hard and is reaping the rewards almost week by week.

“He’s never let us down and he’s improving all the time. As well as all the important games he’s played in, myself and Rob Hunter (forwards coach) can still see that good element of development in him.”

Baxter believes Lonsdale’s patience has helped him make strides for the club, who are top of the Gallagher Premiership while pro sport is suspended because of coronavirus.

“When you look at young players, they can make it easy for you to invest in them and that’s what Sean did,” he said.

“He wasn’t expecting the world initially, he knew the first period of being a young player is to invest in yourself and sometimes that means being like an academy player for a couple of years, understanding that you’ve got some hard work to do and some experience to gain.

“That’s what I think Sean has done really well – and he’s continually shown that level of improvement which means it is worth continually investing in someone.

“That’s why I like to turn a lot of the credit to the players, because some can make it hard. They want the world immediately – and there’s nothing wrong with that – but these days, particularly in professional sport, you’ve got to have a decent bit of time investing in yourself.

“If I’m honest, I think Sean is only really becoming comfortable in the surroundings of the first team now, and that will show over time, he will become more influential and a more important player over time.

“He’s one of those players where you get to the end of a game and you watch his play back and see a lot of good things happen.

“You want to be in a scenario where you’re working with young players and they’re good enough to play for you, but you can still see improvements coming, and that’s where we are with Sean.”

Former Bridgend and Ospreys wing Tom O’Flaherty signed a fresh Exeter deal last month.