Sam Hidalgo-Clyne’s decision to keep his career ticking over with a series of short-term deals has paid dividends as he has been snapped up on a two-year deal by Rob Baxter’s Exeter.
With Nic White’s departure back to Australia already confirmed, the Chiefs boss had been on the look-out for a replacement and that search had ended with the recruitment of Hidalgo-Clyne, the former Scotland international who has been having a transient time in recent years.
As an Edinburgh player, the scrum-half signed for Scarlets in summer 2018 but that move didn’t end well. Despite making 18 appearances for the Welsh region, he switched to Premiership club Harlequins last March on a loan deal and decided to end his contract with Scarlets by mutual agreement when he returned.
That freedom then left him free to link up with Racing 92 in the early months of this season after he was initially linked with Toulouse. Covering for the World Cup absence of Max Machenaud, he made six appearances – one start and five as a replacement – for the Parisians before switching to high-flying Lyon after Jean-Marc Doussain was injured.
With a deal now agreed to switch to Devon in the summer, Exeter will be Hidalgo-Clyne’s sixth club in two years but he believes it will be his best move yet. “I’m very excited by the move,” said the half-back, who has 12 Test caps and featured at the 2015 World Cup.
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“Like a lot of people, I’ve watched how the Chiefs have done and how successful the club have become over the last few years. They are one of the great teams, not just in England, but across Europe, and it will be great to be part of their set-up.
“Even looking in from the outside, you can see Rob has created a fantastic environment for the players. They play a great brand of rugby, everyone appears to enjoy themselves and they are a team who clearly want to win things.
“As a player, there are a lot of things that would draw you to them. As I said, it’s a great move for me and my family and I’m really looking forward to the challenge. I chatted in detail with Rob and he outlined how he wants the team to play, the aspirations of the club, and what he would expect from me. I liked what he had to say and in the end, it was a pretty easy decision for me.
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“Obviously, they have a quality squad already assembled there and with guys like Jonny (Gray) coming in as well, it’s only going to get better. I’ve played a lot with Jonny, not only as a youngster, but also with him and Stuart (Hogg) at international level, so it will be good to have a few friendly faces on arrival.
“When you look at Exeter as an opponent, they are one of the toughest teams out there,” he continued. “They have strengths all over the pitch and they are a team who like to keep hold of the ball and play for long periods. The way they attack, their defence, their physicality, they have some many areas of their game that are so strong. They rarely have off days!
“Alongside all of that, the support they get down at Sandy Park is incredible. I remember it was not only pretty noisy, but it was probably one of the windiest days ever for me on a rugby pitch. It’s a great place to go and play, though, and as I said at the outset, I’m looking forward to the challenge ahead.”
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