Irishman Ian Whitten is looking forward to exciting times ahead after he became the latest Exeter Chiefs player to commit his future to the Aviva Premiership club.
The 26-year-old back follows club-mate Jack Yeandle in agreeing terms on a new two-year contract to remain at Sandy Park.
Signed in the summer of 2012 from Ulster, Irish international Whitten has settled well to life in the Westcountry, establishing himself as a prominent member of Rob Baxter’s first-team squad.
To date, Lisburn-born Whitten has featured 34 times for the club, either in the centre or on the wing, and has scored two tries in the process.
Now, with his immediate future secured, the talented ace is looking to build on what has been an encouraging first two years in Devon.
“Signing on again was a fairly easy decision for me to make,” said Whitten. “I’ve had two good years here already and hopefully I’ll have two more good years,
“At the moment I feel I am doing well; that I’m improving as a player and I like where the club is going. The systems they have in place are good ones, I like the way we play, so I can only see success for the club going forward.”
And with two years’ experience of English rugby’s top flight under his belt, Whitten insists there is still more to come from him as a player in Exeter colours.
“The Premiership has been tough, it’s tougher than the Pro12 in the fact that you can’t ever have an off week and get away with it,” he said. “The Heineken Cup also has been a great experience for us all. I think having had a couple of years in Europe we are getting better and we are getting used to the bigger occasions. We have a big one on Saturday [against Toulon], so it’s great be part of it all.
“On a personal level, my target for the future is to do well and be successful with the Chiefs. I want the club to start pushing into semi-finals and latter stages of competitions. You can see we are improving year on year, so hopefully over the next two years we can move onto that next level. I want to be ambitious with the team and contribute to Exeter doing well.”
However, it seems it’s not just playing that clearly appeals to Whitten love of the region. Off the field, the Ulsterman insists he is happily settled and enjoying the ‘craic’ of his team-mates and the Exeter fan base.
“The craic is brilliant here,” added Whitten. “The big thing for me is you have to enjoy playing rugby and I enjoy playing here. The banter is great, there is a lot of it and it’s pretty relentless. I deal with it as best I can, but it will be great to have a few more years of it.
“The Chiefs fans are great, I’ve had a few pints of Guinness with them in Dublin and I’ve experienced the Whimple Fun Bus, so I’ve enjoyed that side of things. It’s nice to come to a new place and settle in so well. Devon, as I said, is great and I wouldn’t have a bad thing to say about the place.”
And it’s that support from the sidelines which helps to drive Whitten on in games, he continued: “I have come from Ravenhill and that’s a great atmosphere on match-days, but here is just as good and our fans make great noise, home or away. Having that kind of support behind you each week, you just want to do well all the time and push the club forward.”
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