Exeter change two for Champions Cup final, recall fit-again Nowell
Rob Baxter has made two changes to his Exeter side to face Racing in Saturday’s Champions Cup final following their Premiership semi-final win last Saturday over Bath.
Up front, Baxter sticks with an unchanged pack from that which saw off Bath 35-6, but behind there are two changes with Ian Whitten – on his 200th Premiership and Champions Cup appearance for the club – given the nod in midfield over Ollie Devoto, while Jack Nowell comes in on the wing for Olly Woodburn.
England winger Nowell, 27, wasn’t included in the league semi-final selection due to a foot injury sustained in the European semi-final against Toulouse, his place going to Woodburn.
But Baxter hinted at Wednesday’s pre-Champions Cup final media conference that Nowell was in his thoughts to start for Exeter despite not playing since September 26.
“We take a long time on selection and we look at all of those things. You look at Jack, how he played before he picked up that foot injury late on against Toulouse, how he played against Northampton when he scored a fantastic try in that game, how he has played in other big games for us,” Baxter explained.
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“I don’t think I have seen a winger play a better game in the Premiership final than Jack Nowell played last season, so you look at that and you know what he’s capable of doing. But at the same time, we have to watch him train and assess it carefully to make sure he is at the level to be able to perform like that.
“At the same time, we have to be able to take into account the performances of Tom O’Flaherty, who has been very consistent over an extended period of time, and Olly Woodburn, who came back and had a great game in the (league) semi-final after a little period out with an injury.”
EXETER (vs Racing, Saturday)
15 Stuart Hogg
14 Jack Nowell
13 Henry Slade
12 Ian Whitten
11 Tom O’Flaherty
10 Joe Simmonds (capt)
9 Jack Maunder
1 Alec Hepburn
2 Luke Cowan-Dickie
3 Harry Williams
4 Jonny Gray
5 Jonny Hill
6 Dave Ewers
7 Jacques Vermeulen
8 Sam Simmonds
16 Jack Yeandle
17 Ben Moon
18 Tomas Francis
19 Sam Skinner
20 Jannes Kirsten
21 Sam Hidalgo-Clyne
22 Gareth Steenson
23 Ollie Devoto
Has the veteran Wales midfielder spotted a possible flaw in the Chiefs' attack? https://t.co/g1BwWwJc73
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