Sam Simmonds has every reason to be beaming with delight today as not only is he set to make his Aviva Premiership debut, but the young Exeter Chiefs forward has also penned a new two-year deal with the Devon club.
The 22-year-old will celebrate his latest contract by packing down at No.8 for Rob Baxter’s side when they play host to Wasps at Sandy Park (1pm).
It’s rich reward for the Teignmouth youngster, who has shown in recent weeks his growing stature within the ranks at the Chiefs, producing two eye-catching displays against Wasps and Bristol in the Anglo-Welsh Cup.
Never afraid to offer youth it’s chance to shine, Baxter clearly believes the talented back-row forward – who has been dual-registered with the Cornish Pirates this season – has his best years ahead of him and is delighted to have secured his services for the next two years at least.
“It is the first proper senior contract you get after coming out of the Academy, and Sam has earned it,” said Baxter. “He has shown an awful lot of very, very good qualities, and has worked extremely hard, both in his time here at the club, and the qualities he has shown in his time down at the Pirates, which have been exceptional.
“He has maintained working very hard, every time he comes back into the club he has moved forward as a player, and he really has taken each step that we like to see at the moment.
“He is progressing at a really nice rate, and I think it is important we maintain our relationship with him and he stays close with us, and we keep looking to help each other along – him as a player and us as a club.”
Baxter added: “His performances in our last two Anglo-Welsh Cup games have been those of a top-quality young player, and the good thing is there is still an awful lot to come from him. Experience wise, he has got a lot to learn, but the basics of what he can bring to the game, and what we think will keep coming from him over a number of years, is very exciting.”
Simmonds, whose younger brother Joe is also a member of the Chiefs first team squad, says the decision to sign a new deal was an “easy one” and is now looking to kick on.
“I have been with the club for four years now, straight out of college, and all I have wanted to do really is play for Exeter,” said Simmonds. “And I think it would be the same for my brother (Chiefs fly-half Joe). It has been a dream to play for the first team.
“Playing Championship rugby has given me massive experience being around players who have played at the highest levels, but ultimately, I want to play for Exeter as much as I can, and hopefully I can show what I can do.
“We get our chance in the A League, but to get a first-team opportunity in front of 10,000 people (in the Anglo-Welsh Cup) puts us in that shop window and allows us to perform at the highest level playing against other first teams.
‘This contract means I get another two years to almost just carry on what I am doing, and instead of playing well for the Pirates, hopefully I can put on the Exeter shirt week in and week out, and play well when I get my opportunities.”
And the first major opportunity comes today when he lines-up in an Exeter Premiership team for the first time in his fledgling career.
Baxter added: ‘It is a huge opportunity for him against Wasps this weekend, but it is not the be all and end all, and that is the important thing. He is in really good form at the moment, and we think it is exactly the right time to push him through into the team.
“We are not expecting to see the finished product, but I am expecting him to go well and am hoping he will do so, but this is his first opportunity, and the important thing is he goes out and takes part in the game and shows the qualities he has in the last few weeks.
“We have picked him because he deserves to be, and he just has to relax and just play like that and just be Sam Simmonds, and he will be fine.”
Member since: 5th January 2016
Hi, I am Mark Stevens, Media and Communications Manager for the Exeter Chiefs