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Baxter gives his take on Jack Nowell wearing the Munster shirt

By Liam Heagney
(Photo by Harry Murphy/Sportsfile via Getty Images)

Last Saturday’s bizarre sight of Exeter winger Jack Nowell wearing a Munster jersey while seated in the Thomond Park stands on his stag do was much commented on over the course of the latest round of Heineken Champions Cup action. The England player himself detailed his adventurous weekend in Ireland during a podcast appearance at the start of this week, explaining how the trip came about and what his fan experience was like in Limerick. 

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However, Nowell added that he was unsure what Rob Baxter, the Exeter coach, would make of one of his star players wearing the jersey of the team the Chiefs were playing. He was on a day off on Monday, as were all the Exeter players as their next game against Saracens in the Gallagher Premiership isn’t until next Sunday.  

That left Nowell, who is currently sidelined with a broken arm, not knowing the feelings of Baxter and it would only be on Tuesday when he reported for training that he would find out. The England player turned up on time, as did all the other players who were on the stag and with him in the stands at the match in Ireland. 

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So what did Exeter boss Baxter make of seeing Nowell wearing the Munster colours? “It’s a difficult one,” admitted the coach on Thursday when he held his media briefing ahead of this weekend’s league visit to Saracens. “The first time I saw it was on Sunday when we got back and I was reviewing the game and that comes on TV. 

“It’s a tough one because you are looking at the grandstand with a lot of good players who are not available to play in the game through no fault of their own, they have just picked up injuries. We have a thing here, work hard and play hard and we like the guys to enjoy their rugby, we like the guys to enjoy their relationship with supporters and fans and enjoy the real rugby side of playing rugby.

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“Munster, without doubt, is a great place to go and watch rugby and be involved on the weekend and I know our supporters feel that so it was a bit of double edge sword really. Obviously it is great to see the guys enjoying themselves and enjoying each other’s company and seeing some old players there making the effort to get over with Jack. At the same time it is slightly frustrating that they were in the grandstand and not on the rugby field.”

What got said then when Nowell turned up for training on Tuesday? “It was all fine. I knew the stag do was happening. The guys had told me and asked if everything was okay. We had the Monday off anyway with it being a Sunday game this week, they had the additional day off and we were back in on the Tuesday and they were all back. 

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“Everyone who was there was back in full training on time on Tuesday, that wasn’t an issue for us at all and obviously it is a good opportunity next week for Jack to get married because we are into a bye week and have a weekend off and we have give the guys a few days off. To be fair to him he planned it pretty well even though we didn’t really know what was happening. It’s all fallen pretty well.”

So when is Nowell’s big wedding day? “It isn’t clashing with the game (at Saracens). I don’t know how much Jack is happy for me to say. It is kind in the three, four-day period in and around the weekend, that is probably all I should say. I don’t really want to give out the date in case he is trying to keep that quiet.”

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Shaylen 56 minutes ago
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