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15 for 10: Exeter Chiefs

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15 for 10: Exeter Chiefs - an all-decade team

The latest in the decade-ending 15 for 10 series is our look at Exeter Chiefs, where were go back over the past 10 years and pick out the club’s most iconic XV.

The 2010’s have been an era of excellence for Exeter, who have not only solidly established themselves in the top tier of English rugby, the Gallagher Premiership, they have also become a powerhouse in that competition, having been involved in the last four finals and lifting the trophy in the 2016/17 season.

Exeter’s consistent and growing strength over the past decade should make this XV a fairly familiar line-up for many fans, with the vast majority of those involved still plying their trade at the club.

  1. Phil Dollman

Despite the effervescent talents of Santiago Cordero and the recent arrival of British and Irish Lion Stuart Hogg, Dollman has been the consummate club man over the past decade. In addition to his consistency and durability for Exeter, the Welshman has provided no small amount of ability, either, during his 233 appearances to date.

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  1. Jack Nowell

One of the club’s homegrown heroes and a product of Exeter’s academy, Nowell graduated from the pathway when it hit a zenith in quality output earlier in the decade. Nowell has been a difference-maker for Exeter, as well as going on to make an impact with England and the Lions. Whether on the wing, at full-back or even in the centres, Nowell is an attacking weapon for the Devon-based side.

  1. Henry Slade

Slade’s story largely mirrors that of Nowell, with the pair having come through the club’s academy at the same time and gone on to feature for England at age-grade and senior levels as teammates. Ordained early on as Exeter’s future at fly-half, Slade has since moulded himself into one of the best centres in English rugby and his playmaking at the 13 spot has been crucial for the club as they have developed into a more all-court team.

  1. Ian Whitten

Both Sam Hill and Ollie Devoto have had their moments in an Exeter jersey and have time on their side going into the 2020’s, but it is Whitten who has been ‘Mr Reliable’ for the club over the past seven and a half years. The Irishman recently broke the 200 appearance mark for Exeter and his direct threat inside Slade is a combination that continues to reap rewards.

  1. Olly Woodburn

Former Bath player Woodburn gets the nod here, having made crossing the try line a regular feature of his game since making the move from the Rec, though James Short is worthy of an honourable mention, too. Alongside Nowell, Cordero and Alex Cuthbert, Woodburn has excelled in the Exeter back three and still has a number of good years left in him.

  1. Gareth Steenson

Joe Simmonds is beginning to make an impact at the club and Ignacio Mieres did likewise earlier in the decade, though it is a fairly easy call to go with Steenson. The former Ireland age-grade player has been with Exeter since 2008 and has been there for every step of the club’s journey to the Premiership and their subsequent consolidation within it. Simmonds is the go-to man now for Rob Baxter and will star in the 2020’s, but the 2010’s were the decade of Steenson.

  1. Will Chudley

The consistent control and tempo that Chudley gave Exeter during his six-year stint at the club were major factors in their rise to prominence in the Premiership. He was unlucky not to win an England cap during that time and his influence on where the Chiefs are now should not be forgotten, despite the high profile signing of Nic White and the emergence of Jack Maunder.

  1. Ben Moon

Moon’s development and more recent involvement in the England team mirrors the steps and improvements that Exeter have made as a club. He has grown and kicked on as they have done and although he wasn’t viewed as the high-end talent early on that the likes of Nowell and Slade were, he has made his way to the highest level of rugby courtesy of his unerringly strong shows for Exeter.

  1. Jack Yeandle

This was perhaps the toughest call in the XV, with Luke Cowan-Dickie having had more of an impact at international level, not to mention being a hugely impressive Premiership player. In terms of contribution to the club, though, we’ve narrowly leant towards Yeandle, whose availability, set-piece precision and captaincy have all characterised Exeter over the past seven and a half years.

  1. Tomas Francis

Another tough one and this is a genuine 50/50 call. Harry Williams and Francis have both developed as players significantly under Baxter’s tutelage and they’ve given so much to Exeter that they have both been rewarded by international call-ups. We went Francis – just – but there would be little complaint if the names were reversed.

  1. Dean Mumm

Sam Skinner and James Hanks were both unlucky to miss out and we’ve opted for Mumm based on his role in helping take Exeter from a consolidated Premiership team, to one who is capable of competing for the title each and every season. Exeter fans were sad to see the Australian leave in 2015, although it was a mark of his performances for the club that he had worked his way back into Wallaby contention and wanted to push for involvement at the 2015 Rugby World Cup.

  1. Geoff Parling

Parling’s impact on the club largely mirrors that of Mumm, as the former Leicester Tiger also helped Exeter make that leap from contender to champion. Jonny Hill has ended the decade in strong shape and is integral to the new-look Chiefs, but Parling just edges him out, not least so due to his contributions in the title-winning 2016/17 season.

  1. Dave Ewers

Tom Johnson is a fan favourite and there are few players who have given as much of themselves to the club as him, though the same can arguably be said of Ewers. The Zimbabwean-born flanker has been knocking on England’s door for a number of years and although now at 29 it may seem as if that avenue is increasingly unlikely, his contribution to Exeter’s power game has and continues to be indispensable.

  1. Don Armand

Matt Kvesic, despite playing at No 8 a lot of the time, was another consideration here. Armand, though, has been playing at a high level for Exeter ever since he arrived in Devon in 2013 and he gets the nod over Kvesic purely on longevity. Like Ewers, there have been vocal calls for Armand to be more involved with England, though the national team’s loss has proven to be Exeter’s gain.

  1. Thomas Waldrom

As with Mumm and Parling, it was Waldrom’s arrival and impact on the field that helped tip it over the top for Exeter in their bid to win their maiden Premiership title. He wasn’t necessarily the most athletic back rower, but what he did close to the ruck and the try line, he did with almost unstoppable certainty. Sam Simmonds will be a centrepiece for the coming decade, though Waldrom did enough to make this spot his own for the 2010’s.

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15 for 10: Exeter Chiefs - an all-decade team