'Another very good discussion on Monday': How Baxter is handling axed Hogg
Rob Baxter has provided an update on how Scotland skipper Stuart Hogg has reacted to his shock axing from the Exeter starting team that last Saturday won its way through to next weekend’s Gallagher Premiership final versus Harlequins.
The full-back, who is expected to wear the Lions No15 jersey when the three-game Test series opens versus the Springboks on July 24 in Cape Town, had his world turned upside down last week when Baxter phoned to tell Hogg he was benched and that fit-again Jack Nowell would be starting the semi-final versus Sale.
Nowell went on to have an exemplary performance, scoring two tries and excelling under the high ball to suggest it is unlikely that Hogg will get his place back for next Saturday’s Premiership showpiece at Twickenham.
However, Baxter was pleased with how Hogg reacted last weekend to his demotion and is further satisfied that the demoted full-back will give everything to the Exeter cause this week following another chat between the pair on Monday. Baxter explained at his pre-final media briefing on Wednesday: “He [Hogg] has been very good this week, very angry, very frustrated in all the right ways and that is what I expect.
“I don’t expect a competitor, a successful, professional sportsman and almost like a world-renowned player, I don’t expect him to be happy with not being in the team coming into big games. We had another very good discussion on Monday that was needed for Stuart to train well this week which he has done. He has been very good this week, particularly very good yesterday [Tuesday] and we expect him to be very good again today [Wednesday].
Exeter reached sixth successive Prem final despite dropping the Scotland skipper who is expected to start for the Lions vs the Springboks in 5 weeks' time… meanwhile, Cuthbert is also being released despite his try-scoring effort #EXEvSAL #LionsRugbyhttps://t.co/rJkA3YzsQs
— RugbyPass (@RugbyPass) June 19, 2021
“He knows how important he is likely to be in this game and obviously it’s a difficult one because Stuart is a good guy, he is delighted for Jack Nowell. Jack Nowell is a good friend of his. He is delighted for Jack to get back fit. He knows the injury scenario Jack has had and then to play very well he is delighted for him and at the same time, he is gutted not to be in the team. He is dealing with that how I would expect any rational human to deal with it and he is getting on with things and he looks to me like he is preparing to do whatever he can to help the team win a Premiership trophy.”
Having lost Dave Ewers (and Sam Skinner) to suspension in the title run-in, Baxter also lost his back row replacement Richard Capstick to concussion following a yellow-carded four-minute collision with Manu Tuilagi that the Exeter boss was unhappy with. The young flanker, though, is on track for league final selection. “Richard Capstick has come through all the return to play protocols at this stage so is available, and there are no new injuries from last weekend.”
"I still believe it has been a win-win scenario"
— RugbyPass (@RugbyPass) June 23, 2021
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