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Exeter’s Gareth Steenson: ‘My career has been built on being told I wasn’t good enough’

Uncapped Irish fly-half is benefitting from years of adversity and rewriting the rules of sports psychology before Munster match

Munster supporters visiting Devon for the first time this weekend should brace themselves for a strangely familiar experience. A south-west based band of brothers, deeply rooted in their local community, fiercely committed to putting their region on the European map and roared on by a passionate audience? The cathedral green of Exeter has a more mellow feel than worldly-wise Limerick but, in terms of attitude, the rugby men of Chiefs and Munster are peas from the same relentless pod.

The home team even boast their own Guinness-loving out-half, now such a bona fide legend he is opening an Irish pub in town with his former team-mate Carl Rimmer. The Stand Off (its name is shared with the bar famously installed in his own garage for recreational use) is a few days away from serving its first customers but, when it does, the queue to buy Gareth Steenson a pint will stretch to Topsham and back. If one player epitomises how far Exeter have travelled it is “Steeno”, as pivotal a figure in the Chiefs’ rise as Ronan O’Gara and Johnny Sexton have been to their respective tribes.

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