Aviva Premiership: It will be sad to leave Exeter, says Mumm

Exeter Chiefs star to return home in a bid to earn a place in the Wallabies squad for the Rugby World Cup, will rejoin NSW Waratahs

Dean Mumm admits he will be sad to leave Exeter Chiefs when he returns to Australia in the summer.

The 31-year-old lock has ambitions to force his way into the Australia squad for the Rugby World Cup in September, but must be playing down under to make that a possibility, and accepts that a return to the international fold was something he never thought was possible.

Yes, I’m sorry to be leaving, but I’m only leaving to chase an opportunity that I didn’t think was otherwise present…my focus here and now remains on the Chiefs and what I hope will be a very exciting end to the season for us.

Dean Mumm on his decision to return to Australia

The versatile forward, who made 83 appearances for NSW Waratahs between 2007 and 2012, will return to the Sydney club – also coached by Wallabies boss Michael Cheika – on a one-year deal for the 2016 Super Rugby season.

Mumm made his Wallabies debut off the bench in an 18-12 win over Ireland in Melbourne in 2008, has won 33 Test caps, but last played for Australia against England at Twickenham in 2010 and faces a tough road to force his way into the reckoning for with the Rugby World Cup in England starting in September.

But he remains focused on achieving more success with the Chiefs before he returns to Sydney in the summer.

“I’ve really enjoyed my time here at Exeter, but I don’t want to be talking as if the time is complete when there is still so much to play for and get done between now and the end of the season,” Mumm said.

“Yes, I’m sorry to be leaving, but I’m only leaving to chase an opportunity that I didn’t think was otherwise present.

“When the time comes, it will be sad to say my goodbyes, but in the meantime there is so much to focus on and so much to get excited about, both as players and supporters.

“As a youngster, the Waratahs was the club I always wanted to play for.

“Thankfully, I was lucky to do that on a great number of occasions, and hopefully I’ll be lucky to do it again in the future.

“At the moment, all that’s been created is an opportunity for me to play for the Waratahs, and hopefully something more after that.

“It was something, until recently, I didn’t think would ever be possible, but the opportunity arose, and it’s something I knew I had to do.

“That said, my focus here and now remains on the Chiefs and what I hope will be a very exciting end to the season for us.”

Mumm has become a fans’ favourite at Sandy Park since his arrival in Devon in 2012, and was handed the captaincy by head coach Rob Baxter 2013/14 season, leading the club to their maiden title when they defeated Northampton Saints 15-8 to lift the LV=Cup on home soil on 16 March 2014.

I think in my time here the club has grown enormously, not just in terms of the stands and the seating capacity, but in terms of what we are now looking at and where our ambitions lie.

Dean Mumm on the rise of Exeter Chiefs since his arrival in 2012

The Auckland-born Australian has amassed 63 caps for the Chiefs, scoring 12 tries, and he has his sights on more success as the Chiefs target securing a place in the Aviva Premiership play-offs, as well as chasing the European Challenge Cup with a home quarter-final against Newcastle Falcons in April.

He believes that the Chiefs are building something special on and off the field in Devon, with his time on the south coast exceeding his expectations when he left Super Rugby for a new challenge.

And with England international lock Geoff Parling moving from Leicester Tigers and Italian international centre Michele Campagnaro also joining in the summer from Benetton Treviso, Mumm insists that the club’s ambitions show no sign of slowing down.

“Winning the LV=Cup was a great feeling, as were a number of great victories we’ve had along the way,” Mumm added.

“For me, though, it’s the little things, the ferocious banter and the relentlessness of it which makes this group.

“Personally, I love it and it’s certainly a lot different to changing rooms back home.

“But also the time you spend together on the bus journeys, it all adds to everything.

“In the southern hemisphere and Super Rugby you simply don’t do bus journeys, aside from the yearly trek from Sydney to Canberra, and most of the time you don’t enjoy that.

“Having this other element is completely different, but it really does help to gel a group of blokes together.

“For sure it’s exceeded my expectations; the Chiefs really is a special place in terms of the mixture it has created between professionalism and amateurism.

“I think in my time here the club has grown enormously, not just in terms of the stands and the seating capacity, but in terms of what we are now looking at and where our ambitions lie.

“It’s a place – given the right circumstances – that in time will be a really strong and even more sustainable place to be.

“I think evidence of that is shown in some of the recent signings that we’ve made.”

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