Cordero says 'adios' to the Chiefs
By Mark Stevens
Santiago Cordero today says ‘adios to Exeter’ but he insists the Chiefs will forever hold a special place in his heart.
The Argentinian international is set to begin the next chapter in his distinguished playing career, linking up with Top 14 side Bordeaux-Begles on Monday, when he starts a new two-year contract with the French club.
But before he heads across the English Channel, the 25-year-old was keen to say a final farewell to everyone at Sandy Park, including the club’s fan-base who have loved watching him terrorise opposition defences both in the Gallagher Premiership and in the Heineken Champions Cup since his arrival in January 2018.
“Obviously it’s a sad day for me to come and say goodbye to everyone,” said Cordero. “I will miss this place a lot. Exeter is an amazing place, as is the club, the guys, the staff and of course the fans. From the first moment I arrived here, it felt like home and everyone treated me like family.
“As a foreign player coming into the club, I didn’t know what to expect. At first, I was very nervous and afraid, but that soon went and I have to say this has been one of the best experiences of my life for me and my wife.”
Recruited from Super Rugby side Jaguares, Cordero made his debut within days of his arrival, starting in the Anglo-Welsh Cup win at home to Saracens. It was the first of 33 first-team appearances he would make for the Chiefs, who he helped that season to lift the competition for a second time in their history.
It was this past season, however, where the Buenos Aires-born back really made his mark in Exeter colours. He featured 24 times in all competitions, scoring ten tries in the process, and was named the Premiership’s Player of the Month for March.
Cordero played an integral role in helping Rob Baxter’s side to once again finish the regular season top of the pile, eight points clear of next-best Saracens. However, a knee injury sustained in the home win against Harlequins in April meant his season was brought to an abrupt end.
Although Cordero worked his way back to full fitness come the end of the season, it proved to be his last appearance in a Chiefs jersey.
“It was an amazing season for me and for the team,” reflected Cordero. “To help the team reach the final again was very good, but at the same time we were disappointed not to win it come the end. That happens sometimes, but I think there was so much that we can be proud of and that the club can work with moving forward.”
Whilst Cordero’s immediate future will be in France, he says he would happily return to Devon in the future if the opportunity arose.
“Now is the time for me to move on and I will miss everyone a lot,” he said. “I wish everyone at the club the very best and I will keep following you from France. Personally, I can’t say anything bad about the place, everything was a plus for me.
“It was different, of course, to being back home in Argentina. The weather, the language, it took me a little while to adjust to that, but I feel I leave Exeter not only a better player, but also a better person.
“The lads here are like family. Every day you wake up and you want to come to train. It’s a fun place, mad at times, but everyone knows when to have fun and when it’s time to work. Now, I’m looking forward to going to Bordeaux, doing my best there, and playing as much as I can.
“Again, I have to try and learn a new language. I’ve been a bit lazy on that front, so the first month may be a little tough for me, but hopefully I can pick up the language, make some new friends, and play some rugby.”