He had surgery on an ankle injury he picked up in Bath’s 23-16 win over Leicester Tigers on December 30th, which forced him to miss the entire Six Nations as Tom Curry staked a strong claim for the number 7 jersey, with his performances for England earning a spot on the six-man shortlist for Six Nations Player of the Championship.
Underhill is among the replacements for Bath’s trip to face the Gallagher Premiership leaders Exeter Chiefs.
In February Underhill said he was aiming to be a less physical player in order to extend his rugby career.
“It’s probably something I’ve tried to stop [playing physically]. A disregard for your own body is great when you’re young, and you feel really good, and then you play a couple of seasons and you think ‘I’m not sure I can keep this up’.
“People kind of expect you to be like that all the time, and when you can’t it’s tough to keep up. I’ve tried looking after myself a little more and my tackle technique, I’ve tried not to put my head in the wrong place.
“Safety is pretty key when you are teaching young people to play. You don’t want them smashing into each other. It’s great to watch when they’re adults, but you don’t want people getting hurt.
“Technique is so important for a long career… especially in the tackle area, making sure you’re not injurying yourself unnessarily, and other people around you.”
Joe Cokanasiga also returns for Bath, following his man-of-the-match performance against Italy during the Six Nations. He starts on the right wing, with Ruaridh McConnochie and Tom Homer completely the back three.
Jamie Roberts joins Jonathan Joseph in an experienced midfield combination, whilst captain Will Chudley faces his former side at scrum-half. Rhys Priestland continues at fly-half after kicking Bath to victory against Saracens two weeks ago.
Bath Rugby team to face Exeter Chiefs:
15. Tom Homer
14. Joe Cokanasiga
13. Jonathan Joseph
12. Jamie Roberts
11. Ruaridh McConnochie
10. Rhys Priestland
9. Will Chudley (c)
1. Nathan Catt
2. Tom Dunn
3. Henry Thomas
4. Elliott Stooke
5. Charlie Ewels
6. Tom Ellis
7. Francois Louw
8. Zach Mercer
16. Jack Walker
17. Beno Obano
18. Anthony Perenise
19. Levi Douglas
20. Sam Underhill
21. Kahn Fotuali’i
22. Freddie Burns
23. Max Clark
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