Steenson commits to Exeter for three more years

English Premiership Rugby club Exeter Chiefs have signed flyhalf Gareth Steenson for another three rugby seasons.

Thirty-year-old Steenson’s signature comes a week after Phil Dollman confirmed he was staying at Sandy Park and Steenson says he is looking forward to an exciting future ahead.

Steenson, who joined the Devon club in 2008 from the Cornish Pirates, has already written his name into Exeter folklore with his on-field achievements which, to date, have seen him amass a staggering 1,565 points for the Chiefs.

Now, though, the Irishman is determined to drive the club even further forward as he looks to further enhance the claims of the Chiefs, both in the Premiership and in Europe.

“I’m absolutely over the moon with the new deal,” said Steenson.

“You can see where the club are going and it’s great to be part of it all. I suppose I’m one of the veterans in the squad, but to be part of all this not only now, but for the next year three years as well, is just fantastic.

“The Chiefs is a great club to be and hopefully we can progress even further over these next few years.”

A cult hero amongst the Chiefs support base, Steenson’s decision to stay put in Devon will be warmly welcomed by all and sundry, particularly given his deadly accuracy with his right boot and his ability to control proceedings from the coveted No.10 jersey.

“Every year we are getting better and better,” added the Dungannon-born back.

“Obviously the young fellas have been here for a few years now and we’re seeing what they can do out on the pitch, plus guys like Phil and the coaches as well, they’ve all signed up for the next few years which is great.

“As I’ve said before, it’s been great being part of it all with the Chiefs, but I want to be part of the next journey for as long as I can be. To be around for the next three years is very exciting.”

Having help guide the Chiefs out of the Championship and into English rugby’s top tier, Steenson admits the recent ride has been something to savour, not only for himself, but for everyone connected with the club.

He continued: “When you think back to all those tough encounters we had in the Championship – for me it’s a dream every time you come out to play on the field. You see the new stand and everything going up, plus the crowd we get at games, it’s fantastic the way the place is built.

“Yes there have been some tough times, but there have also been a lot of great times and hopefully we can have a few more.”

Chiefs head coach Rob Baxter praised Steenson for the contribution he has played in helping the Devon club establish themselves as a force within the English game.

“There’s no magic ingredient,” said Baxter. “Steeno has improved over a period because his gained more and more experience in the Premiership and in Europe and those experiences are vital in creating a top-quality player.

“Aligned to that he’s worked extremely hard. As Ali said after the Saracens game when he was talking about his kicking, he goes out, practises and puts the time in. He’s meticulous with it.

“He and we have reaped the rewards from that, it makes him a very important member of the team and it’s helped us massively in our time in the Premiership.

“On top of his kicking there are elements of his game that are improving all the time. He’s had to make himself go out and do that. His defence this year has been the big marker for me that’s noticeably improved. We don’t hide him on the wing, we don’t shield him at all, he stands there in the 10 channel and takes whatever’s coming and done it very well.”

But it’s in other areas as well that Baxter believes the former Rotherham and Cornish Pirates playmaker has offered so much to the cause.

He added, “He provides a real direction and leadership in what we do in attack. Some of his play attacking the line and where he makes his passes and the way he comes onto the ball are things Ali has worked very hard on with him and he’s taking it all on board.

“At the moment he’s bang on form and what we’re hoping and expecting from him is that by signing a long-term commitment to the club we see that level of improvement continuing in the future.”

Steenson’s metronomic boot has not only taken him to the top of the current Premiership points tally, but he now sits a comfortable second in the all-time record for the Chiefs. With a further three years to go at least at Exeter, there is no doubt the 30-year-old will be eyeing up Tony Yapp’s spot at No.1.

“Your fly-halves are like the quarter-backs in an American football team – they’re the players the success and failure of your club can rely upon,” added Baxter.

“With the guys we’ve got here, with Steeno, Henry and Ceri, we’ve got very good quality people. That’s as big a key as anything, having people who believe in the club ethos and the club culture and help drive that forward as well.

“Steeno’s been a very important part of that for a long time – longer than nearly anybody – and that is a key thing because when he’s confident, playing well and on top of his game there’s no doubt it rubs off on the team,” said Baxter.

“What we’re seeing with this group of players at the moment is their confidence, desire and attitude is rubbing off on each other and flowing through the team. That’s the kind of thing we’ve got to make sure we maintain, foster and work hard at over the rest of the season because the biggest factor on where the rest of this season goes is where we go mentally.”

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