Matt Jess will take his Exeter Chiefs career into a tenth season after it was confirmed today that the winger had agreed a new three-year deal with the Aviva Premiership club.
Jess, who joined in 2008 from the Cornish All Blacks, has played an integral part in the rise of the Chiefs over the last few years.
Not only was he part of the Championship winning side of 2010, but he has been a regular starter for Rob Baxter’s side both in the Aviva Premiership, Europe and LV= Cup.
With 162 appearances and 51 tries to his name, the ‘Heamoor Flyer’ has established himself as a popular figure both on and off the field at Sandy Park – and the news that he is extending his stay, alongside that of Will Chudley and Don Armand who have also agreed new contracts, will be warmly welcomed by the club’s fan base.
"I’m really looking forward to the the next few years," said Jess. "This is my seventh season here, so to add on to that is outstanding. Personally, I feel very privileged to be part of what is a growing club with a very bright future."
Having seen a transformation not only in terms of the Exeter team, but also the facilities around him in recent times, Jess says it’s all a far cry from the club he first joined all those years ago.
"I’ve seen huge changes," he added. "I still remember clearly the Championship days because that was a big thing to come through. If you look at the squad now, there are still a number of guys here, myself included, that have made that step up.
"Our transition into the Premiership has been very good and each year as a club and as players, we have seemed to get stronger and stronger. As a youngster you always strive to be a Premiership player because it’s one of the pinnacles you want to hit, so for me and the rest of the guys to get there and hold our own is really very good."
Indeed, the Chiefs have shown in their relatively short top flight existence that they are a club that have plenty of ambition to advance within the game. Last season’s LV= Cup win ensured the club of their first piece of major silverware and Jess is hopeful more success will follow in the years to come.
"It’s great that so many of us have been able to do it together," he continued. "As players or as coaches, all of us are learning all the time and we’re gaining so much from every experience.
"As I’ve always said, I never wanted to leave, I’m very happy here and I’ve set really good foundations here at the club and in the city. For me, playing rugby in Devon has been a big part of my life for a number of years now and I can’t wait to keep pulling on the Chiefs jersey for the next few years."
With Baxter keen to tie down the futures of a number of his squad, the Chiefs head coach often says that the retention of key players is often just as important as bringing in new faces.
Jess added: "Rob has done that very well over the years because he doesn’t tend to make dramatic changes. Yes, players do move on for various reasons, but he’s very good at bringing in people that have experience, love for the game and have the right personality.
"Having those people, along with the crop of boys we have at the club, it makes for a great squad. You can see with the crop of players re-signing and the youngsters coming through from the Academy, it’s got the makings of a really bright future and I want to be part of that."