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'He gets all the glory, doesn't he, from scoring a couple of tries from two metres out'

By Liam Heagney

Trending on RugbyPass

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Joe Simmonds has highlighted brotherly love in rugby at its best, initially having a joke at the expense of his Gallagher Premiership’s all-time record-breaking try-scoring brother before going on to properly sing the praises of Sam for the stellar Exeter campaign that has resulted in him getting picked for the Lions tour to South Africa.

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Younger brothers always have a reputation for being cheeky and 24-year-old out-half Joe, the Exeter skipper, is no different checking in at 25 months younger than his No8-playing 26-year-old sibling who has lit up the Premiership with his terrific haul of 20 tries which eclipsed the previous best mark of 17.   

“He gets all the glory, doesn’t he, from scoring a couple of tries from two metres out,” quipped Joe at this week’s Exeter media briefing ahead of Saturday’s final versus Harlequins at Twickenham. “No, no, credit to him. He is always in the right positions and it takes a lot of hard work to score those tries, especially 20 of them or whatever it was. 

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“He has been brilliant. Not just him on a personal level but for the team as well. The great thing is the team want him to score those tries, the team really wanted him to break the record. It was a credit to how hard he has worked in these last couple of years and now he has reaping the rewards with the Lions and stuff like that. Fair play to him, to score 20 tries this season is pretty crazy.”

As you can tell, the Simmonds boys like winding each other up but there no hesitation either if a sharp word needs expressing if it is for the good of the team at Exeter. “We can’t be too serious with each other. We obviously know when to say the right thing. If he is not doing something I’m not scared to tell him and the same with me, he can tell me to do something so I think that is where we kind of grow as players because we are not scared to get into each other.”

Looking at the Exeter evolution, Joe Simmonds wouldn’t have struck you as captaincy material a month after his 23rd birthday, but there was no fuss made when Rob Baxter told the youngster he was being given the responsibility for an away Heineken Champions Cup game at Glasgow in January 2020 and no long chat about it since either. The role has just stuck and having captained the Chiefs to double glory last October, the chance exists now to skipper the club to back-to-back league titles.  

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“Someone might have dropped out through the week and it was like a Wednesday afternoon, I was eating my food and he [Baxter] came up to me and said that you will be skipper this week,” said Simmonds, explaining how the captaincy role came about. “He was pretty chilled to be fair. 

“At the time I was ‘it’s brilliant’ but I went home and thought about it and I had never really captained the side other than being at school and I never thought I was capable of doing it. I was always quite a shy person, just wanted to sit back and let other people talk, but having been captain for a year in games I have definitely grown as a player.

“It has definitely helped me as a leader and as a person as well, whether it is talking off the field or whatever it is. It’s something I really loved doing now but to fair, there has been no conversation since then about captaincy at all. I’m just taking it game by game and enjoying it and they are giving me the belief that I can do it. 

“My job is very easy. Although I have got the C next to my name throughout the week there are so many leaders when it is Henry Slade, Jack Yeandle, who is club captain as well, you have got Stuart Hogg, who is Scotland captain. For me, it’s very easy. I sit back and let them do some of the talking. When I feel like I need to talk I will come in and talk. I’m a captain that tries to lead by actions on the weekend and don’t talk too much.”

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'He gets all the glory, doesn't he, from scoring a couple of tries from two metres out'

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