Brett Sturgess: Exeter Chiefs prop to retire at end of season

By Brent PilnickBBC Sport
Brett Sturgess
Brett Sturgess' role has been limited in the past few seasons, with his only starts since November 2013 coming in the LV=Cup and European Challenge Cup

Exeter Chiefs prop Brett Sturgess is to retire from professional rugby at the end of the season.

The 34-year-old has not played this season and not started a league game since November 2013.

"It was tough making the decision, but if you look at the time I've had playing this year it was obvious that there wasn't anything for me next year.

"The decision was made with myself and the coaches that it was probably best that we look elsewhere," he said.

Sturgess ends a 17-year career which has seen him spend nine seasons at Exeter, helping them gain promotion to the Premiership in 2010 after spells at Connacht and Northampton.

Sturgess says he will go on to become a player-coach at an unnamed lower league club in the Midlands next season, as well as working for his family business.

"It's been a fantastic nine years here but 17 as a professional, so I couldn't have asked for much more really," he told BBC Sport.

Injury problems

Sturgess' penultimate league appearance was his 100th Premiership game, against Harlequins in December 2013, where he suffered a serious knee injury having broken an arm in each of the previous two seasons.

The knee injury kept him out for almost 10 months.

"Last year I couldn't really get to where I was, but luckily enough Rob Baxter gave me another year and unfortunately this year I haven't had the game time," Sturgess said.

Brett Sturgess
Brett Sturgess celebrates Exeter beating Bristol in the inaugural Championship final

"I've done as much as I can preparing the lads to get out there on Saturdays and that's a key thing for a squad like ours, there's 23 guys going out there, but it's the guys during the week trying to do the best they can.

"I've got a few months left and it'd be great to go out on a high, maybe not playing as much, but we started that journey nine years ago with the lads and if we can create something special at the end of this it'll be amazing."

The 'Unbreakables'

Sturgess is one of a dwindling number of Exeter players still at the club who helped the Chiefs to an unlikely promotion to the top flight, and six years on the club have not looked back.

"In the early years of getting promotion from the Championship and staying in the Premiership we had a group of guys who you could call the 'unbreakables'," said head coach Rob Baxter.

Brett Sturgess
Sturgess has scored 10 tries in 166 games for Exeter

"There were an awful lot of guys that seemed to be playing every single week, a lot of those guys seemed to play every single minute and Brett was one of those guys."

Sturgess wrote himself into club folklore when his breakaway try at Saracens in October 2010 helped the Chiefs to their first ever away win in the top flight.

"I can still still close my eyes now and see it like I was there," recalls Baxter.

"He gathered that loose ball near the halfway line up at Saracens and galloped it in, I was riding him like a jockey all the way, I don't mind saying it!

"Personally I've got a big debt of gratitude to him because he's one of the players that helped us to get into the Premiership and allowed us to stay here. Those guys' efforts should never be forgotten because, in that first year or two, no-one gave us a chance."

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