Plymouth Albion secretly signed Exeter Chiefs forward James Phillips three weeks ago
IT HAS emerged Plymouth Albion did make a second Championship transfer deadline day signing three weeks ago.
However, the deal has only been revealed now – by Exeter Chiefs.
Albion's director of rugby Nat Saumi had previously told Herald Sport that Irish fly-half Declan Cusack was their only deadline day signing, but Exeter boss Rob Baxter disclosed yesterday that back-row forward James Phillips agreed a loan move to Brickfields before the March 1 deadline.
Phillips has been out injured since late September after sustaining a knee injury in their home win over Saracens.
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Premiership side Exeter, who now have eight players either on-loan or dual-registered at Albion, want the former Bristol player to regain his fitness at Brickfields.
"James Phillips is pretty much there now having been out for a long time. We may get him some game-time away from the club," said Baxter.
"We completed a loan deal with Plymouth for him before the deadline and he's been down there training with them this week, so there is a possibility he may get some game-time down the line if they want him to play.
"The key thing is he's close to playing again, so that's fantastic. With any long-term injury it's always great to see the player back playing again."
Albion are not short of back-row forwards at the moment, with Sean-Michael Stephen, Aaron Carpenter, Herbie Stupple, Sam Hocking, Wayne Sprangle, Sam Matavesi, Rupeni Nasiga, Harrison Tovey and Dan Lee in their ranks.
Albion coach Saumi, who recently announced he would be leaving Brickfields at the end of the season, told Herald Sport last night: "The deal for James to be registered on-loan was agreed between Exeter and our CEO.
"I was told it would be three or four weeks before he would arrive as he was rehabbing and I forgot to mention it to the media. I was just concentrating on the squad I had and the games I had coming up."
On whether Phillips might feature in Albion's final four matches, Saumi said: "We will see how it goes.
"At the moment I have 11 back-five forwards and I usually use seven in the matchday squad, so four are left out.
"Now I have 12, I'll have to see. It will be my call."