Sam Simmonds won’t take his foot off the gas now that he has broken the Premiership try record and earned Lions selection.
That was the warning to Newcastle from Simmonds’ Exeter team mate Jack Maunder ahead of today’s Chiefs-Falcons clash at Sandy Park.
Simmonds’ last appearance saw him score a hat-trick against London Irish to smash the all-time mark for tries in a league campaign.
With 19 in 19 games and a place on the upcoming Lions tour to South Africa in the bag, the No.8 might be forgiven for taking it a bit easier in the final month of the domestic season.
But Maunder said: “No way! Simmo is a monster, an unbelievable bloke and player. I can guarantee there’s nothing he wants more than to keep playing well and to win Exeter the Premiership title. Slacking off is not in his DNA.”
No sooner had he bagged the record at Irish than Simmonds was deflecting praise away from himself and onto team mates who had made his achievement possible.
“The boys want me to score, the boys want me to get the record,” he said. “They’re putting me in those positions, they’ve allowed me to be me.”
Maunder said: “It was nice of him to credit us but honestly he’s been incredible this year. It’s true the boys have put him in the right positions but Sam has developed into a world class finisher.
“He’s scoring all these tries because he’s absolutely brilliant at it. His power off the mark, his strength. He’s very smart. He knows exactly when to change direction, where to be.”
With three games of the regular season left Simmonds has the chance to set a record that may never be beaten. His team mates are with him all the way.
“There’s a massive buy-in at the club,” said Maunder. “The forwards speak about it a lot. When we get into that red zone, the latches get a bit stronger, the clear-outs get a bit bigger, everyone gets a bit more excited. We’re all very proud to play alongside him.”
WARREN GATLAND has South Africa fearing an ambush when his British and Irish Lions arrive for this summer’s Test series.
Rassie Erasmus, who coached the Springboks to World Cup glory in their last game 18 months ago, does not believe the tourists are preparing solely for a battle of muscle.
“The way Warren has picked this side and his support staff, the way he has selected his squad, his backline and with Gregor Townsend in there, I think he has something up his sleeve,” said Erasmus.
“I don’t think we will see this battle of attrition and grinding it out like in the World Cup. I think he has other plans.”
Erasmus admits Gatland has already played a blinder by negotiating a match schedule which negates the home advantage of altitude as it forces the Boks players to join the Lions and sea level before heading to the High Veldt together for the last two Tests.
“I think Warren has a few plans because having coached the Lions so much he knows the pitfalls of getting guys aligned quickly.
“I think we will see a change in his gameplan, but I’m not sure about that. He might just be throwing us some bait.”