Hogg can’t wait to get started at Chiefs
Stuart Hogg says he cannot wait to pull on an Exeter Chiefs jersey after checking out his new Sandy Park surroundings this week.
After nine years with the Glasgow Warriors, the Scotland and British Lions star is heading to the West Country, ready to add his proven worth to Rob Baxter’s squad as they once again look to challenge on all fronts during the 2019/20 season.
Alongside wife Gill and their three children, Hogg spoke of his excitement about his new start ‘Down South’ and the prospect of being part of an exciting future with the ambitious Devon club.
“I’m loving it so far, apart from the weather,” he joked. “I was told this was the sunniest part of the UK, so hopefully things will pick up a bit!
“It’s been a long time coming, but now I’m raring to go. I’m excited to be down here and can’t wait to pull the Chiefs jersey on.”
Director of Rugby Baxter confirmed the arrival of the 26-year-old back in November, eventually getting his man after tracking him closely for a number of years previously.
But as Hogg was quick to stress, the opportunity to open a new chapter in his career and that of his family life was too good an opportunity to turn down.
“It was time for me to move on and challenge myself in other ways,” he said. “The timing was also spot on for Gill and the kids. As a family we’re excited because we’ve always wanted to experience new things and challenge ourselves in different environments. I don’t look too far ahead, but when I come to the end of my career, I want to turn round and say, ‘I’m glad I tried that’ as opposed to, ‘I wish I’d tried that.’
“Hawick will always be home for us, and it will be difficult to leave, tough moving further afield. In terms of leaving Scottish rugby, I’ll be forever grateful for the opportunity to become a professional and live the life I’m living.”
— Exeter Chiefs (@ExeterChiefs) June 15, 2019
That said, Hogg is acutely aware he’s joining a Chiefs outfit, who have established themselves as a growing force within the English and European game. Clearly, he likes what he sees in terms of his new employers, whom he now hopes to drive onwards and upwards.
“There were a lot of things that attracted me to the Chiefs,” he explains. “The amount of quality they’ve got around the place with the players, the management and the whole set-up down here, it’s fantastic. They’ve got various internationals about the place, lots of good kids coming through, plus they play an exciting brand of rugby, which I’m really looking forward to being part of.
“I’ve always said that I want to improve as a player and as a person and I truly believe I’ve picked the perfect club to do that.”
Although Hogg knew it was the right decision to move to the Chiefs, it didn’t hurt that he was given plenty of encouragement from the likes of Moray Low and Sam Skinner, together with former coach Matt Taylor, whose now part and parcel of the Scotland coaching team, alongside Gregor Townsend, whose brother Craig is himself a former Chief and still resides within the city.
“They were all good salesmen,” he laughed. “Tattsy [Matt Taylor] was aware of my chance to move on, so he was happy to hear I was coming to Exeter. Big Tony Walker played at the Borders, so I had heard good things from him, plus Muz and Sam have been huge in getting me here as well. They say the club is an amazing place to be part of, so it was an easy sell come the end.”
Equally, Baxter himself had done enough in his conversations to persuade Hogg it was a move that suited all parties.
“Rob didn’t have to say too much,” said Hogg. “I’ve got a lot of time and a huge amount of respect for Rob. Chatting with him, you can see he comes across very well and that he has genuine affinity with the club. At the same time, the results and the success he’s achieved with the team speaks volumes. When we sat down and had our chat, I just said ‘where’s the contract?’
“Now I’m here, I’m raring to go and can’t wait to learn new things.”
It will, however, be a short while before Exeter supporters get to see Hogg take to the Sandy Park turf as first things first, he will report into the Scotland camp tomorrow to start their preparations for the Rugby World Cup.
And just as he’s excited to get his Chiefs career up and running, Hogg is just as keen to lead from the front for his country over in Japan.
“We’re back in on Sunday, so it’s going be a long old pre-season,” he says. “But there’s no bigger tournament in world rugby, so here’s hoping I can get out there and try and achieve something special. Under Gregor he’s given us licence to go out and play, have some fun, and play with a smile on our faces.
“So far we’ve had some great results and hopefully we’ll continue to learn and improve and challenge each other to get even better.”
After which it will be back to Devon, where Hogg will be quickly acquainting himself with the ‘Tomahawk Chop’ and match-days with the Chiefs.
“I’ve played down here in the past with Glasgow and I know it’s an incredible place to play,” he continued. “The atmosphere always looks electric, so I’m buzzing to get out there. Let’s just get the World Cup out the way first.”