Baxter backs Nowell to bounce back
Exeter Chiefs Director of Rugby, Rob Baxter, is confident Jack Nowell has what it takes to force his way back into the selection plans of New England head coach Steve Borthwick.
Cornishman Nowell, along with Billy Vunipola and Jonny May, were surprise omissions from Borthwick’s 36-strong squad named earlier this week ahead of the upcoming Guinness Six Nations Championship.
The 29-year-old has won 45 caps for his country, the latest of which came in the Autumn in the defeat to reigning world champions South Africa at Twickenham.
Asked by the media this week about Nowell’s exclusion, Baxter came out in support of the experienced back.
"I can quite easily see him demanding his way back into the squad with the quality of his performances," said Baxter. "The key for us, just as we always talked about when these guys were wanting to first play for England, the key for us as coaches is we create a platform for these guys to have that opportunity to play well and win big games and be part of big squads.
"That's part of the process when you want someone to win their first cap, and that's part of the process now when we want to help get Jack back into England recognition - it's the same process, it just feels like different ends of the spectrum."
Nowell, who won two caps for the British and Irish Lions in New Zealand in 2017, helped England win a Six Nations Grand Slam in 2015 and another title 12 months later. He has also been part of the England squad at the last two World Cups and helped the Chiefs reach six Premiership finals - winning domestic titles in 2017 and 2020, as well as the 2020 European Champions Cup.
The fact the talented back will not be with England does present Exeter fans with the chance to see more of Nowell, who is out of contract with the Chiefs at the end of the current campaign.
"If someone said to me I could have Jack Nowell available for every game I'd bite their hand off," added Baxter. "He's been a great player for us, he's a senior player who takes his role and how the players act, how the squad behaves, how we train, very seriously.
"In a lot of ways he's one of our key men to have here in and around the club, so on the one hand I'm absolutely delighted he's here, but on the other hand I do feel for him because he wants to play for England, so it's a double-edged sword really."