Scotland full-back Stuart Hogg will leave Glasgow Warriors at the end of the season, with a move to English Premiership side Exeter Chiefs expected to be confirmed soon.
The 26-year-old Borderer is one of a number of Glasgow players, along with coach Dave Rennie, out of contract in May and the likelihood was always, following former clubmate Finn Russell’s move to French giants Racing 92, that Hogg would look to pursue a lucrative opportunity of his own outside Scotland.
He has been strongly linked with Exeter, who are renowned for their expansive, attacking play under coach Rob Baxter.
Hogg, who won his 63rd cap in Scotland’s 54-17 win over Fiji at the weekend, has made over 100 appearance for the Warriors since making his breakthrough as a teenager in 2011.
He said: “This is a decision that’s taken a great deal of thought as I’ve loved my nine seasons at Glasgow Warriors. I said I would decide my next step for family and rugby reasons and feel now is the right time to gain new rugby experiences and push myself in different situations where I will be challenged and hopefully improve further.
“I’m proud of what I have achieved with Glasgow and Scotland so far and would like to thank the club and Scottish Rugby for all their support. They have supported me when I had made my decision to move on.
“We are still less than halfway through my final season at the Warriors and, as current Conference A leaders in the Guinness Pro14 and second in our Heineken Champions Cup pool, there’s a chance to do something special. That’s the send-off I want to give the club and the fans.”
Hogg is the superstar of Scottish rugby, having been on two Lions tours, won the then Pro12 title in 2015 and been named Six Nations player of the tournament twice in succession. A move to Exeter would see him team up with new Scotland team-mate Sam Skinner and the lock was asked about the potential development after his man-of-the-match debut on Saturday.
“I haven’t had any conversations with Stuart, actually,” he said. “But any club would love to have a player of his ability.”
Hogg came back from ankle surgery over a month earlier than expected and Scotland coach Gregor Townsend was delighted to see the full-back play 80 minutes ahead of this week’s Test against South Africa at BT Murrayfield.
Townsend also reported what he believed to be pretty much a clean bill of health immediately after Saturday’s match against Fiji, with back-rower Matt Fagerson, who came off with a dead leg, and centre Pete Horne, who took a bang on the ribs, the only apparent minor concerns.