Big injury boost for Exeter ahead of clash with Saints

Exeter Chiefs skipper Joe Simmonds has overcome a dead leg and is in contention to start against Saints at Sandy Park on Saturday.
Joe SimmondsJoe Simmonds
Joe Simmonds

Simmonds was forced off in the 49th minute of Exeter’s 34-19 defeat to Leicester Tigers at Welford Road last Saturday after taking a heavy blow to his thigh.

Twenty-three-year-old Harvey Skinner came on in Simmonds' place, but it appears the senior fly-half will be available from the off again this weekend.

Exeter boss Rob Baxter is not expecting any of his long list of injured forwards back for the game at Sandy Park.

The home side will remain without injured back row talisman Dave Ewers (thumb), Scotland international locks Jonny Gray (shoulder) and Sam Skinner, flanker Richard Capstick (hamstring), South African flanker Jacques Vermeulen (hamstring) and British and Irish Lions stars Jonny Gray and Luke Cowan-Dickie, who are both still on mandatory rest as members of England's Elite Player Squad, as per an agreement with the RFU and Premiership Rugby.

Baxter told DevonLive: “We are battling along with the same group (that took the field against Leicester) who have trained very well this week.

“The group of players we had at Tigers wasn’t why we lost the game, we didn’t play well enough.

“It wasn’t that we didn’t have a strong enough team, it was that we didn’t play well enough and that is what we have focused on.

“We haven’t spent a lot of time looking at the make-up of the side because it is what it is but we have spent a lot of time looking at how we played and how we can get better and I think we will be better this week.”

Baxter could welcome back star No.8 Sam Simmonds and Scotland captain Stuart Hogg this week as the British and Irish Lions pair have both now completed their mandatory five-week rest period.

Simmonds' rest period is shorter than his fellow England internationals as he is not in the EPS squad yet despite being called up by Eddie Jones to train with the national team ahead of the autumn internationals.