Sam Simmonds: England and Exeter Chiefs forward ‘at peace’ with France move

Sam Simmonds: England and Exeter Chiefs forward 'at peace' with France move

Sam Simmonds is yet to score a try for club or country this season

Exeter and England back-row Sam Simmonds feels his decision to move to France after the World Cup is the right one for his career.

The move will rule the British and Irish Lion out of England contention.

“I knew that that decision of playing abroad, you wouldn’t be able to be selected for England, but for me I felt like I’m focused on the here and now,” he told BBC Radio 5 Live.

“I feel like I can still have such an effect in an England shirt, such an effect in an Exeter Chiefs shirt for the next 12 months now, and I think I’m at peace with that decision.”

Simmonds has scored 80 tries in 119 games for Exeter and set the regular-season record for tries scored in the Premiership in the 2020-21 season, when he went over 20 times for the Chiefs.

He was controversially not selected by Eddie Jones for England at the time, despite his form, but Warren Gatland rewarded him with a place in the Lions squad that toured South Africa, where he won a Test cap in the final game of the series.

He has since become a regular in Jones’ squads, featuring in every game of this year’s Six Nations and starting two of England’s three matches this autumn.

“There’s plenty of players that are going to be coming up behind me and I felt that it was the right time to make a decision for after the World Cup to pursue a new life in France, and for my family and for me to experience that because I have loved my time at Exeter, but I haven’t experienced anything outside of Devon,” he added.

“I feel it was the right decision at the right time and we’ll see how it goes.”

‘Tough decision’ to leave Exeter

Sam Simmonds
Simmonds put himself on the map with a last-minute try that saw Exeter beat Saracens in the 2017 Premiership semi-final

The decision to move will see Simmonds leave a club he made his debut for as a teenager in an Anglo-Welsh Cup match at London Welsh in November 2012.

Since then he has helped the club win two Premiership titles and a European Champions Cup, while establishing himself as one of the Premiership’s most dynamic strike runners.

But he says the decision to move to France was a once in a lifetime opportunity that he could not turn down.

“Just because a contract was offered to me at the time, now, and say I’d decided against that and decided to stay, who’s to say in two years or whenever my contract was up that any contracts would be available then?

“These decisions, whatever people may say, they’re tough decisions to make because I’m moving away from all I’ve ever known.

“But it came at the right time to make that decision, and who’s to say in a year’s time that a contract anywhere would even be there for me in England, in France or anywhere?

“We’ve seen what’s happened recently with clubs unfortunately in England, so it’s a decision I’ve thought about a lot, but ultimately felt like I needed to make that decision.”

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