England and Exeter Chiefs loose forward Sam Simmonds said he is “at peace” with his decision to move to France after next year’s Rugby World Cup in France.
Despite spending his entire career as a professional rugby player at Exeter, Simmonds is excited by the prospect of joining Top 14 champions Montpellier.
Although his move will rule Simmonds out of selection for the England team, the number eight is comfortable with his decision.
“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,” he told the BBC.
Despite such excellent form, Simmonds, who made his England debut against Argentina in 2017, did not represent his country at Test level during that time but he was included in Warren Gatland’s British and Irish Lions squad for their tour to South Africa.
He played in the final Test for the famous touring team against the Springboks and since then he has featured regularly for England in the international arena.
“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,” said Simmonds.
“I feel it was the right decision at the right time and we’ll see how it goes.”
Since making his Exeter debut in 2012, Simmonds has had great success at the Devon-based club and played a crucial role as they won two Premiership titles and a European Champions Cup.
He is renowned as one of the best attackers in the Premiership but said the chance to move to France was something which he could not refuse.
“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?” he said.
“These decisions, whatever people may say, they’re tough decisions to make because I’m moving away from all I’ve ever known.
Right time to leave
“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.”