Exeter boss Rob Baxter has kept his cards close to his chest as to whether Scotland pair Stuart Hogg and Jonny Gray – along with Wales’ Tomas Francis – will be involved in the Chiefs’ Gallagher Premiership game this Saturday against Northampton.
All three Exeter players were involved in the Guinness Six Nations round two thriller a Murrayfield last Saturday which ended in a one-point win for the Welsh over the Scots.
With this now being a fallow week in the championship, the regulations governing non-England Test players contracted by Premiership clubs have seen a huge raft of Scottish and Welsh players return to their clubs in England.
They are available to play for their clubs in this weekend’s Premiership games but Baxter was vague about which of his three Celtic country trio might line out with the Chiefs. “We’re dealing with them all individually,” said the Exeter coach whose team are now just a point behind leaders Bristol following a win over London Irish.
“Some we have given some time off. Some have been back training and having a bit of physio and some will be involved this weekend potentially. It’s great that they are about and they are available, but that doesn’t mean you lump them straight back into the team.
— RugbyPass (@RugbyPass) February 10, 2021
“We are assessing it kind of based on where they are and people need to remember that even with your non-England players, we have made an agreement that they get a certain amount of time off over the course of the season.
“Actually for some of them the time off will suit us and them more now then it will when they get back from the Six Nations. We’re looking at them all separately and also what we require on the field as well, how our injury situation is. I can’t tell you how we are dealing with every single one but they are being dealt with individually.”
Scotland skipper Hogg returned to Exeter this week with his reputation as a world-class operator enhanced following his recent Test performances against England and Wales. Baxter was delighted for his full-back. “He is playing very, very well. The biggest thing with Stuart is he is just really enjoying playing. Really enjoying playing and that is the biggest thing I can say.
“I just talked to him this week. He feels he is on a roll of form, he is playing well, he is really enjoying it, he is very upbeat about his own individual performances and it’s only what we expected from him. That is why we looked at bringing him to the club and he is certainly performing at that level at the moment.”
Sam Simmonds has scored 52 tries in 76 Test, Premiership and Champions Cup games compared to Billy Vunipola's 32 tries in 208…
— RugbyPass (@RugbyPass) February 13, 2021
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