ALY MULDOWNEY is already feeling at home with Exeter Chiefs after just a week of pre-season training.
As one of nine signings brought to Sandy Park by head coach Rob Baxter during the close season, settling in with new team-mates and in a different environment can sometimes take a while to get to grips with.
However, the 27-year-old forward insists his move from Glasgow Warriors to the West Country has been a smooth transition and now he is looking to realise a lifelong dream of playing in English rugby’s top flight.
“My dream when I started playing rugby was to try and play at the highest level possible and play in the Premiership – it is something I have wanted to achieve for a while,” he said. “Coming to Exeter, I have that chance now. I won’t say I’m a Premiership player until I’ve got myself into the team, but now I have the chance to work hard and try and get myself into that team.”
Having previously played against Exeter for Moseley, Muldowney was already well aware of the Chiefs’ fanatic support – and discussions with Baxter ahead of his move merely confirmed his early impressions.
“One of the main reasons I came was the town itself and how much the people love their rugby here,” added Muldowney. “Previously I have played in Birmingham and Glasgow, both of which I would say are football cities, but somewhere like Exeter you can see how much they buy into the rugby team and how much they follow the club, so it was a massive attraction to play somewhere that has that kind of support.”
Breaking into the Chiefs squad, however, will be no formality for Muldowney, who will be battling it out with a handful of other locks. It is, according to the man himself, a challenge he is ready to take on.
“There are quite a few players in that (second-row) area, but it is going to be a long old season. It’s good to have competition for places as it brings the best out of us all.”
For now, Muldowney’s immediate aim is to work hard during these opening few weeks of pre-season, a period he admits no player ever enjoys.
“Pre-season wherever you play is always tough and horrible,” he said. “The conditioners try to bring as much fun into it as possible, but pre-season is a horrible process to get through.
“The trainers are all working very hard, this is a massive time in the season for them, they’re getting programmes in place and making sure we are getting a lot of hard work done.
“I can’t say I’m enjoying getting up for the early morning swims, I’m not the strongest swimmer in the world and making me do a lot of swimming isn’t great, but it’s all part of it at the end of the day.
“The good thing about here, unlike a lot of other clubs, is that we have done quite a bit of rugby already – that has been a big plus for me, especially as a newcomer coming into the club.
“That is why it is so good we are doing so much rugby in this first week – because we can get used to all the patterns. When you go to a new club it can be several weeks before you really know all the moves and that, so already we are getting an insight into how the team plays.”