Aviva Premiership: Haydn Thomas eyes ‘exciting’ Exeter future

Exeter Chiefs scrum-half Haydn Thomas and back-rower Kai Horstmann have both signed new one-year deals to keep them at Sandy Park

Exeter Chiefs

Haydn Thomas wants to be part of an exciting Exeter Chiefs future for the Aviva Premierships club after signing a new deal.

The 31-year-old who has scored 44 tries in 177 league and cup appearances for the Sandy Park club, is the latest member of Rob Baxter’s first-team squad to agree a new contract that will keep him in Devon until at least the summer of 2015.

I feel very settled here, I enjoy the day-to-day life of the Chiefs and also the way we play

Haydn Thomas

“I’m delighted to have re-signed, I’ve been at the club a long time and I really enjoy it here and want to be part of the club going forward,” said Thomas.

“I feel very settled here, I enjoy the day-to-day life of the Chiefs and also the way we play. It’s a good place to be, it’s enjoyable, and we want to push on and hopefully achieve more as a club.”

The Birmingham-born back says the decision to extend his career with the Chiefs was an easy one to make as the West Country club continue to impress since joining English rugby’s top flight in 2010.

The club has come a long way since a young Thomas made his debut for the Chiefs against Bedford Blues while a student at the University of Exeter in 2003.

Exeter moved from the County Ground to Sandy Park—a 10,000 capacity stadium on the outskirts of the city—and the club has a five-year expansion plan which should see capacity increased to 20,600 with 12,300 expected to be in place in time for the 2015 Rugby World Cup when three pool matches will be staged at the ground.

“Obviously the club have a plan for on the pitch, but off the field everyone has seen what we have planned for the stadium in terms of the redevelopment,” Thomas continued. “Right now we’ve got very good facilities here, but that’s going to get even better with a new pitch, bigger gym, bigger changing rooms and things like a team room, so it’s a nice place to be and I want to be a part of it.

“I think players from outside see the Chiefs as a good club and an attractive option. You only need to look at the players we have brought in over the last few years—and the players we’ve signed already for next season—to back that up.

“At the same time, look at the guys that have come up through the ranks. Look at how well [England international] Jack Nowell has done, there is a rake of guys underneath—people like [Henry Slade], [Sam Hill], Dave Ewers, [Luke Cowan-Dickie]—they’ve all come through the system and that’s exciting to see them come through. It’s a good mix we have here and I think it will only make us stronger going forward.”

On a personal level, Thomas insists there is still more to come from him and his future lies in Exeter despite forays to Bristol, Bath and Gloucester in his 11-year career.

“I want to keep pushing forward and make myself a better player,” he said. “I look at other players in the Premiership, guys like [36-year-old Bath scrum-half] Peter Stringer and [35-year-old Saracens scrum-half] Neil De Kock, they are still going strong, so for me it’s just another extension. I am still very ambitious and I want to improve myself and look to be one of the better nines in the league.

“Competition for places has always been strong here at the club and it’s only going to make you get better. Hopefully I can continue to improve, get even better and give more to the club which has done so much for me.

“I’ve had over 150 league games for the club and it’s played a big part in my career. However, I still believe there is a lot more to come from the team over the next couple of years and it will be great to be part of that.”

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