Frenchman Nic Sestaret says he hopes to end his playing career days in Exeter after he became the latest Chiefs player to pledge his future to the Aviva Premiership club. The 28-year-old has along with fellow backs Matt Jess and Phil Dollman penned a new two-year contract with the Devon club, who are wasting little time in tying down the futures of many of their current first team squad.
The trio’s decision to remain part of the Chiefs set-up means that 16 of the current first team group have now sealed new terms, whilst there are others still in discussion with the club about extending their own stays. For Exeter head coach Rob Baxter the decision by so many of his players to commit to the cause is clearly music to his ears, particularly as he looks to ready them all for a crucial stage of their debut season in the English top flight.
“With all three of them what’s pleasing is they’re improving with exposure to Premiership rugby, which is what we hoped for from our players at the start of the season,” said Baxter.
“More recently you’ve started to see Jessy come through. He’s taken a bit longer than Nic and Phil to settle in, but now he’s starting to come through. Nic is what Nic is – he is 100 per cent in everything he does, be it playing or training. He adds great energy to every side he plays in and has a fantastic attitude. It’s fantastic that they want to stay with us. We can keep working on them now for a period of time and our aim is obviously to make them as good players as we can.”
All three were key figures in Exeter’s rise out of the Championship last season and they have continued to blossom another rung up the league ladder.
Dollman and Sestaret have made 15 and 13 starts respectively, whilst Jess has started just seven games. The latter, however, has scored four tries this season, two of which came in the club’s recent Amlin Challenge Cup defeat at Montpellier.
Baxter admits it has taken the former Pirates, Newport-Gwent Dragons and Launceston winger a little longer to adjust to Premiership life, but in recent weeks the form of Jess has been mightily impressive.
“At the start of the Premiership season we weren’t picking Jessy as much because the other guys we were picking were doing well,” said Baxter. “He had to wait a bit longer for some opportunities so he didn’t really get that same exposure to the Premiership as the others. Now he’s had those game minutes we can see his performances are accelerating.
“Jessy’s physical attributes are very good, so if the speed of his decision-making catches up with his physical attributes he could be a very good player. That’s what he’s having to learn.”
Sestaret, meanwhile, is in his third season with the Chiefs following his move from Plymouth Albion and readily admits he loves life with the Chiefs.
“I always wanted to stay here and maybe end my career here,” he said. “I need good fitness training to be good on the pitch and that’s what I’ve got here. I’m very happy with that, the coaches and all the staff. I’ve got a family now and I quite like England too. This is my sixth year (in England), so it will be eight years by the end of this contract – I’ll almost be an Englishman!”
Never one to hide his emotions on the field, Sestaret believes the Chiefs are on the rise and can make big strides in the years to come.
“I think something big is coming to Exeter,” he said. “I really believe the club is going to do something good and I want to be part of it. That’s why I signed so quickly. My first choice was to stay here and, as long as they want me, I would like to stay here and finish my career here.”