Covid19 Response

Covid News 2024


Gareth Steenson is set to call time on his career with Exeter Chiefs

Mark Stevens – PPA Sports Content

Gareth Steenson is set to end his career with Exeter Chiefs, ending a 16-year association with the club.

The 40-year-old today announced that this will be his final campaign at Sandy Park, after which he will return to his native Northern Ireland to pursue new opportunities with him and his family.

It will bring to an end a remarkable journey for the Dungannon-born playmaker, who has been instrumental in the Devon club’s rise in recent years.

“I had a great journey and I was lucky to be on both sides,” Steenson said. “I’ve been in the locker room, I’ve been in the coach’s office, I’ve seen it from different angles.

“Along the way I’ve met some great people, on and off the pitch, but for me I think the time is right to move on and look at other opportunities and other things in different areas.”

Steenson joined Chiefs from Cornish Pirates in 2009 and became the club’s all-time leading points scorer during an impressive playing career that saw him win a European Champions Cup, two Premiership titles and three Premiership Rugby Cups, one of which was as a coach.

“It’s been difficult, we’ve been back and forth about this for a long time,” Steenson added. “I would say that probably over the last 18 months we have been talking about the possibilities of returning home and we have talked about that extensively, especially about the children and the opportunities that they are going to have.

“It was soul searching because Exeter has been a huge part of my life, especially my adult life, and it has given me so many wonderful memories and wonderful opportunities, so I will be forever grateful for that, the people like Tony Rowe, Rob Baxter, everyone at the club and of course the supporters, who have been fantastic.”

Steenson was rejected by Ulster as a youngster and used the pain of that departure to build a career that saw him achieve numerous personal and team goals, especially with the Chiefs.

His prowess was legendary and part of the folklore of Chiefs supporters, who will fondly remember a rainy evening in Bristol in 2010, as well as his heroics in 2017 to help the club lift their first Premiership crown to drag.

In 2020, his playing days were over, sealed with a historic European and Premier League double. Within weeks, however, he challenged himself in a new way, becoming a vital part of the Chiefs’ coaching setup.

“It was bizarre,” he says. “Two weeks earlier I was sitting in the dressing room having a beer with the boys and celebrating perhaps the greatest success the club had ever had. Now I walked into the coaching office, closing the door behind me, and getting ready for a new season. I didn’t know what to wear, what to say, not even where to sit.”

Four years later, Steenson has been involved in unearthing a new crop of Chiefs, many of whom have been tasked with taking the club forward, much in the same spirit as he did all those years ago.

“I’m very proud to see how they’ve all done and I’d like to think that if I’ve helped them in some way, that’s a huge thing for me.”

For the full interview with Gareth – Read this week’s Rugby Paper.