Exeter Chiefs wing Jess will place team before own interests
Exeter Chiefs wing Matt Jess has said he will put the club's success first, even if it means missing out on a starting role himself.
The former Cornish Pirates player has missed just one Premiership game for the Chiefs in the past two seasons. However, the Heamoor flyer insists nobody is guaranteed a first-team place.
Jess's position could under greater threat this season with Fetu'u Vainikolo and Tom James having joined the Devon club over the summer.
Truro-born Jack Nowell's emergence last season will also mean that places on the wings at Sandy Park are keenly contested.
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Wales international James has scored three tries in two pre-season appearances for Chiefs and, if head coach Rob Baxter opts to overlook Jess, he will do all he can to help his team-mates succeed in the first Premiership game of the season against Northampton Saints this weekend.
Jess said: "Tom is a great player, he come on against Glasgow, played 40-odd minutes and scored a couple of tries. That ability will be a massive boost for us and it is good to have competition across the backs.
"The shirt is never your own and if him or Fetu'u Vainikolo are picked, they have my full support and I'll be there in training making sure they are tip-top for Saints.
"All the summer recruits have done really well and the guys who have been around longer too – we have got huge strength in our squad. Rob strengthens the squad every year and he has certainly done it again this summer."
Jess believes Saints will be formidable opponents, naming the likes of George North and Dylan Hartley as key men to shut down at Franklin's Gardens this weekend. He said: "Franklin's Gardens is a massive place to go, the atmosphere there is brilliant, they've got plenty of internationals in their squad.
"They've got weapons they can use, Dylan Hartley is always a tough opponent and George North did well for the Lions in the summer.
"They are going to put us under a lot of pressure, but I'm confident that after we've gone through another training week, we can go up there and test them and bring some points home."
The Chiefs will not be downhearted despite losing their final pre-season friendly of the summer, 29-26, against Glasgow Warriors last weekend, following previous wins over Scarlets and Bristol.
Jess said: "With the experience that Glasgow have got and how we know they play, we knew the game was going to be a tough ask.
"The games against Scarlets and Bristol were different. We knew Glasgow were going to be much more physical and were going to test us that little bit more. We came off second best, but not by much. It is not enough to get our heads down too much.
"There are lots of things we're trying this year, even compared to what we were doing last year, and it can take a while to grasp all of that. We dealt well with it the last few weeks but the Glasgow game just showed us we need to iron out a few bits and pieces.
"We have got such a good squad, it is just about getting your head down, looking through the video, making sure we're getting things right this week for Northampton – because that is going to be an even bigger test in the Premiership," Jess concluded.