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Bath tackle a 'few red flags' waved after Underhill skips comeback

By Liam Heagney
(Photo by Visionhaus/Getty Images)

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Bath boss Stuart Hooper has insisted that Sam Underhill hasn’t suffered a fresh concussion setback and that his late withdrawal from last Saturday’s Gallagher Premiership win away to Newcastle was due to illness and nothing else. The England back-rower had been unavailable for selection since suffering his latest head knock in the January 22 Heineken Champions Cup defeat to Leinster. 

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That injury ruled him out of selection by Eddie Jones for the Six Nations and it was only last weekend following a five-week layoff that he was considered for Bath selection. However, having been named on the bench on Friday lunchtime, Underhill was missing when the game went ahead the following day at Kingston Park after he wound up not travelling. 

This eleventh-hour absence would have opened the door to speculation that the flanker might have encountered an issue with his concussion recovery, but Bath director Hooper was adamant that wasn’t the case and that Underhill is fighting hard for selection in this Saturday’s derby game at home to Bristol.      

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Beyond 80 | Knocked
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“He is absolutely fine,” said Hooper about a forward that England have missed in recent weeks after Underhill had been an ever-present as their starting openside in the three-game Autumn Nations Series.  

“He was just sick for a couple of days. It is just one of those decisions that we made based on his fitness. Obviously the concussion against Leinster, he was fine afterwards but we treat it in the right way.

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“He was then going to go and see the specialist but he then had covid and that was back when you still had to isolate. Then he is inside for ten days and we go from there. I can see from the outside him not being involved against Newcastle would probably wave a few red flags but I can promise you he is absolutely fine, he is raring to go.”

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Hooper added that Underhill, whose comeback against Leinster lasted just 15 minutes following a Boxing Day head knock versus Gloucester, is the type of character to quickly overcome the disappointment of injury and illness. 

“For sure, he is absolutely someone who can do that, he can compartmentalise the different parts. He knew the concussion was a setback, yes, but he dealt with that in the same way that he deals with the covid and the sickness. He is good and he has been training today [Tuesday].” 

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