Chiefs unearth real gem in Wyatt
By Mark Stevens
Although Exeter Chiefs won’t be contesting next month’s Premiership Rugby Cup Final, there campaign has still brought rich rewards, one of which has certainly been uncovering young gem, Tom Wyatt.
This time last year the 20-year-old was plying his trade down with North Petherton at Level Eight. On Sunday, the fledgling centre was running out in front of a crowd of almost 10,000 at Sandy Park, testing himself against a powerful Harlequins outfit.
In what was only his third outing for the Chiefs, the talented youngster again underlined the faith the club’s coaching staff have in him, producing what was another impressive display against the star-studded Londoners.
Although his on-field efforts were sadly in vain – the Chiefs eventually going down 49-22 – Wyatt admitted his exposure in this season’s competition had provided him with a detailed insight into what he hopes can be a bright future ahead.
“Of course, we’re disappointed to have lost today,” he said. “It was a tough day and not the result we wanted. Credit to Quins’, they’ve come down with a good side and got the result in the end.
“If we’re honest, we didn’t have a great first half. We came out of the blocks well at the start of the second half, got ourselves back into the game, but then we kind of dropped off, got a bit tired, and it allowed them to come through.”
Wyatt and his team-mates did their best to salvage something from the game late on, but by then Harlequins were already home and dry.
Nonetheless, Wyatt – who is dual-registered with National Two South side, Taunton Titans this season – was keen to reflect on what has been a superb breakthrough season to date.
“I’ve really enjoyed it,” he added. “I was pretty shocked the first time the coaches said I was going to be involved, but it’s been great for my development and I’m grateful every time I get the chance to run out.”
As well as featuring in the Premiership Rugby Cup, regular training at the club, coupled with exposure in the Premiership Rugby Shield, mean Wyatt is adding to his skill-set all the time.
“Even at this level, you knew it was a step up from the A League or the level I’m used to playing at,” he continued. “It’s been an unreal rise for me over this past 12 months, but I’ve enjoyed every minute and, hopefully, I’ll get more chances in the future.
“The coaches here at the club, guys like Ricky [Pellow], Haydn [Thomas] and Ali [Hepher], they’ve all helped me so much. Every time I play, whoever it’s for, I know I can come in and chat with them, go through my game, and just pick up little tips that can bring my game on massively.”
Certainly, skills coach Pellow has been delighted with the impact made by Wyatt, whom he singled out for praise following Sunday’s game.
“Games like today are massive for someone like Tom in terms of his overall development,” said Pellow. “To get an opportunity to stand up, against what was a very strong Harlequins side, is huge. I’m sure when we review the video later on, we will see some young players, Tom included, who have really stood up and showed the qualities we are looking for.”