Exeter Chiefs fly-half Gareth Steenson enjoying game time
Exeter Chiefs fly-half Gareth Steenson is enjoying his extended run of games, having spent so much time sat on the replacements’ bench.
For a large part of last season, and the opening month of this campaign, Steenson was kept out of the number ten shirt by Argentina international Ignacio Mieres.
The club’s 2010 Championship final hero was given the chance to start against Harlequins in early October and has not looked back since, featuring in the match-day XV for the Chiefs’ past six Aviva Premiership and Heineken Cup fixtures.
“I am obviously delighted with how things have been going for me personally,” said 28-year-old Steenson. “It has been a tough time, but whenever you get an opportunity you have got to take it.
“It has been a tough few weeks for the team, with the big games we have had as well, but it has been a great learning curve for everybody, especially me, and whenever you have got the jersey, you have got to do it justice.”
Steenson has contributed 71 points with the boot in his past six matches, and his goal-kicking was a crucial factor in last Sunday’s 27-23 win at London Irish, when he weighed in with a 17-point haul. It is reward for all the hard work he puts in every week at Sandy Park with the kicking tee.
“I am delighted whenever the kicks go over the bar,” he said. “It was a lovely pitch at London Irish for goal-kicking. It was great to have no wind blowing, unlike the Worcester game at Sandy Park.
“I was delighted with how it went on Sunday, but I have just got to keep my head down and keep working hard.”
Exeter boasted a very impressive away record in the Premiership last season, but they were still seeking that elusive first victory on the road in the 2012-13 league campaign until Sunday’s success at the Madejski Stadium.
“It was nice to get our first Premiership away win of the season,” the Irishman added. “That was something we wanted to achieve and we have finally got that monkey off our back.
“It was scrappy at times, we got off to a really good start, and then maybe rested on our laurels a little bit and let them back into the game, but then we showed great spirit to come back and take the win.
“We have talked about attacking games, especially away from home. We wanted to dictate play and we were delighted with the start, but we have got to keep pushing that through for the full 80 minutes.
“After starting really well, we then slacked off, which is a bit of a reversal of what we normally do, but we were delighted to get the result.
“Saturday is another big game for us against Wasps, especially at home, with the record we have, and we want to try and keep that going.”
Steenson, the former Cornish Pirates favourite, admitted the players had been spurred on by Exeter’s performances in the LV= Cup in the previous two weeks, when the club’s fringe first-team players and Academy youngsters staked strong claims for places in the Premiership squad. “We were chomping at the bit to get out on to the field on Sunday, but after the two great performances the boys produced in the LV= Cup, we knew we had to step up our game if we wanted to stay in the side,” he said.
The Chiefs gave a Premiership debut to 19-year-old Jack Nowell on the wing, and he almost marked his display with a match-securing try four minutes from time, only for it to be disallowed on the say-so of touch judge Roy Maybank.
“We were a little bit disappointed Jack didn’t get across for his first league try. It would have been great for him, and great for us,” said Steenson.
“It is great whenever a guy like Jack gets his opportunity and puts in such a good performance. He will learn massively from that, and to be part of a winning side in your first game is fantastic for him.”