Tom Johnson: New contract serves as sentimental reminder of early days with Exeter Chiefs
It was nice to get my new contract signed with Chiefs, which will keep me at the club for another full season at least.
It is certainly something that can play on your mind, so now I can concentrate on the rugby, which is what I would rather do.
Being a bit from the old school, it’s actually really nice to be still playing with people like Gareth Steenson and Si Alcott, who have been at the club almost since I have.
There’s Rich Baxter as well, who has been there for ages, and Tommy Hayes came at the same time as Steeno, while me and Brett Sturgess arrived at the club at the same time.
Business Cards From Only £10.95 Delivered www.myprint-247.co.ukView details
Our heavyweight cards have FREE UV silk coating, FREE next day delivery & VAT included. Choose from 1000's of pre-designed templates or upload your own artwork. Orders dispatched within 24hrs.
Terms: Visit our site for more products: Business Cards, Compliment Slips, Letterheads, Leaflets, Postcards, Posters & much more. All items are free next day delivery. www.myprint-247.co.uk
Contact: 01858 468192
Valid until: Friday, May 31 2013
Hayden Thomas had a stint at Chiefs as well, before coming back, as did Neil Clark, who has also been around a long time.
This coming season is going to be the seventh I’ve played with many of them and sometimes you forget about those things, but thinking about it, that’s a long time to have been playing with these guys. It adds a nice sentimental side.
The facts are all there in the match-day programme, in terms of number of appearances and so on, but it’s not so much for the fans that we make a point of it. It’s just nice for us players to think that we’re still playing rugby with our mates and that we’ve been together all these years.
It seems like a while ago now, but I think it’s fair to say that my decision to join Chiefs all those years ago turned out to be a good one. Actually, there wasn’t much of a decision to make.
I was at Coventry and, after one year there, it had all been going fine, but then it started to go a bit wrong at the club and I said to my agent: ‘I’d like to get out of here’.
When you get an agent they can put your name on a list so that clubs who are looking for a certain type of player can see who’s available, or out of contract. My name was on that list and so Tim, my agent, got a phone call saying ‘We’re interested in Tom’ from Exeter.
You never know who’s interested or looking at you. People will be looking at you way before you know and all of a sudden you might get that call.
I came down to the club, met up with Pete Drewett and Rob Baxter, and it was a pretty easy decision to be honest. Exeter offered me a contract, and it went from there. Quite simple, really. I’d had a successful year at Coventry, but it was a chance to move on.
And back then the club was not too dissimilar to what it’s like now, to be honest.
There was a good bunch of boys here, much like now, although the rugby was more forwards-oriented. It was a proper Championship club in that the ball didn’t get moved wide too often, but that was what rugby in the Championship was like in those days.
Looking ahead to this weekend, we’ve got another massive game coming up.
The boys got outdone by a really good Saracens team last Saturday and there will be a few stern words this week, but we set ourselves some goals for this season and we really want to achieve them.
London Welsh on Saturday are going to be a very tough team to beat, there is no doubt about that. They’ve adapted to life in the Premiership much better than a lot of people thought.
I’ve played them probably ten times, during my five years in the Championship, so you get to know teams quite well.
It does seem that each team has its own strengths and weaknesses, and as you play them more and more you come to appreciate that.
But knowing about potential weaknesses and exposing them are different things.
London Welsh are in their first season in the Premiership and we can remember what that is like.
I think we had the advantage of being able to take teams more by surprise in our first season and perhaps a lot of those sides are unwilling to make that mistake again against Welsh. But, even so, they’ve still surprised a lot of people and have shown they are up for this scrap.
They had a narrow loss to Sale last weekend, and they really need to win this one against us. I think they will have highlighted it as a possible win for them, so we really need to stand up and be counted.
If we want our European adventure to continue, we have to win these games. The Amlin Cup’s a great competition, you still get to go to some wonderful places, but the Heineken Cup is where we want to be.
Sure, the main thing is that we remain in the Premiership, and hopefully we’ve got enough points on the board already to have seen to that. But also we want to improve and that does mean being in the Heineken Cup for us, so we’ll be disappointed if we’re not.