'At first it was something I thought I could use to gain an opportunity to move home'
Recently retired Exeter Chiefs fly-half Gareth Steenson has said that he “never wanted to play rugby for another club” after moving to Sandy Park.
The 36-year-old announced in July that he would be retiring at the end of the season, but finished his time in Devon in style, winning a historic European and domestic double.
The former Ireland under-21 international addressed his retirement on social media on Monday, describing the career he has had and giving his thanks to Exeter.
Having come through the Ulster Academy, Steenson moved to England and had a season with both Rotherham Titans and Cornish Pirates in the Championship.
He made the final move of his career to Exeter in 2008, and though he originally hoped it would facilitate a return to Ireland, he explained that he never wanted to leave, saying: “Then came the move that would change my life, Exeter Chiefs… At first it was something I thought i could use to gain an opportunity to move home, but as the years passed the journey progressed & it became very obvious to me that I never wanted to play rugby for another club.”
— Gareth Steenson (@steeno10) November 2, 2020
Steenson was one of the surviving members of the squad that earned promotion to the Premiership in 2010, kicking 24 points in the second-league decider against Bristol a decade ago to clinch their move to the top tier.
He also thanked the club and the fans for the support he has received since arriving in 2008.
“I’d like to thank all the coaches/ players/ staff I’ve worked with since the first day at the club. The training sessions, the games to the friendships I’ve made on/off the field it’s been a special club to be part of & I’m forever grateful to everyone.
“Can I say a huge thank you to all the supporters & the wider Exeter community who have been behind me every step of the way. The support you’ve shown me & my family has been incredible & I’m truly humbled by it. Some I’ve got to know personally & now consider to be true friends.”
Steenson was pivotal to the ascent through the English and European ranks that Rob Baxter’s side made over the past ten years, and though his gametime was reduced in recent seasons with the emergence of captain Joe Simmonds, he finished his career as the Premiership’s fifth-highest points scorer.
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