Exeter’s first-ever season in the Aviva Premiership may have come to an end, but head coach Rob Baxter is still hard at work preparing for next season’s assault on the top flight.
Having just seen his side see off London Wasps 21-8 in their final fixture of the season, Baxter immediately confirmed the news that Argentine fly-half Ignacio Mieres had agreed a new one-year contract with the club.
The 24-year-old, who landed 11 points in Saturday’s last-day success, will now battle it out with Gareth Steenson and newcomer Myles Dorrian for the No.10 jersey next term. It is, however, a challenge the Buenos Aries-born back is keen to take on after an encouraging first year in Devon.
“I am really happy to have signed a new contract,” said Mieres. “It was something I hoped for ever since I arrived at the club. I knew I wanted to stay; I really like it here, so I am really glad that I have it all sorted.”
Having landed 19 points in a man-of-the-match display for the Chiefs in their LV= Cup victory over Wasps back in November, the Argentine international had to wait until April before he would get his first Premiership start in the club’s away win over Sale Sharks.
In between, however, he happily went about his trade, featuring strongly for the club’s United side in the A League, whilst making a number of cameo appearances off the bench for the first team.
“I feel very settled here,” he added. “Luckily I got more chances in the last few weeks to start games. Before I was on the bench, getting 15 or 20 minutes on the field, but the way the season finished personally for me was very good.
“If I’m honest I didn’t really want the season to finish on Saturday, it would have been good if the Premiership had three or four matches to go. But the good news for me is that in my mind I now know what is happening for next season. I don’t have to think where am I going to be or what I am going to do, instead I can just focus fully on my rugby and hopefully having a good year next season.”
Brought up as a youngster at club side Deportivo Francesca, Mieres has since gone on to have a three-month trial with Leicester Tigers, before he plied his trade in France for two years with Stade Francais. After leaving Paris he return back to his first club before being brought to England by Baxter, who admits the player has more than earned his new deal with Exeter.
“We have been talking to Nacho for some time, it’s not something that has just happened,” said Baxter. “He has worked his way into the side, it has taken a little bit of time, but he has had some good A League performances, some solid first team performances and deserved his chance. His communication within the side is improving all the time and I think he has earned his contract.
“For me, that is a really important thing. Now you can go and see him, shake his hand and say ‘you deserve that’. Hopefully, now he can go away and have a great season with us again next year.
“We are kind of getting there with our squad recruitment for next year, we not too far off now, so I feel comfortable with the set of players we have. They are all great guys, there work ethic is great, so I am really looking forward to working with them again.”
Certainly Mieres believes he has benefitted already from his time at Sandy Park, he continued: “For sure I’ve added things to my game since I have been here. Working with Ali [Hepher] and the other coaches has really brought my game on. I know I have things to improve and there is a long way to go, but being here it is a great place to improve my rugby.”