Exeter Chiefs’ 21-year-old rugby superstar talks superstitions, playing for England, the 2015 World Cup and moustaches!

How old were you when you first started playing rugby and how did you get into it?

I was five years old when my mum and dad took me to a training session with the Penzance Pirates. I cried and refused to have anything to do with it – not the best start! It all changed when my dad took me down one day and said he’d give me a pound each time I scored a try and I started enjoying it.

Are you superstitious – do you have any lucky charms or lucky pants?

I am a little bit superstitious when I get ready; I put everything on my right side first – right sock first, right boot first….I’ve also had the same armour top since I was 15 and always wear it.

Tell us about your pre-match routine please?

Before a match I like to chill out at home and walk my dog before I play. In the changing rooms I don’t do anything special – I’m relaxed and chilled out.

You save everything for the pitch then?

Yes, exactly.

How much travelling do you do with Exeter Chiefs and how do you find it?

Compared to the travelling I did when I was playing for Cornwall Pirates it doesn’t seem too much. We do travel a fair bit but it’s mostly day trips, so we can still sleep in our own beds. We just got back from France though, which was great.

How did players celebrate Steenson’s record equalling penalty tally against Saracens?

We were so happy for Steener and what he managed to achieve, he’s a real quality player. We had a couple of drinks in the changing rooms afterwards.

What is the Chief’s main priority this season?

We sat down at the start of the season and said we didn’t want to look too far ahead. We’ve treated each week’s game as the most important. In the bigger picture the main thing for us is the Premiership Cup.

Tell us about your full England debut in the opening Six Nations clash of 2014?

Such a massive, massive thing for me. Ever since I was young I wanted to put an England top on. I got to play for England under-18 and the under-20 team, but it was nothing compared to pulling on a senior top on. Running on to the pitch as part of the England team with such great players was just an amazing experience – I felt comfortable but excited.

Can England win the 2015 World Cup?

Yes! The coaches and players are all working incredibly hard to build a squad ready to play together. With it being held in England too, it’s a massive deal.

What are your aspirations for the future?

To keep playing for Exeter Chiefs – I’m loving my time here. The reason I’m in the England squad is because of the Chiefs and it’s a massive thing for me to stay in the England squad.

Lastly, we’ve noticed that lots of the Exeter Chiefs, you included, are sporting moustaches at the moment – is there something we should know about?

We take Movember seriously and thought we’d get a head start before November and now it’s turned into a bit of a competition between us. Sadly, I think they are all going next week!

Interview: Rachael D’Cruze-Sharpe

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