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The 'downward spiral' Sam Simmonds injury update from Exeter

By Liam Heagney
(Photo by Bob Bradford/CameraSport via Getty Images)

Exeter boss Rob Baxter hasn’t written off the chances of Sam Simmonds playing again for the Chiefs this season even though he is unavailable at the moment through injury and they have just three regulation Gallagher Premiership season games remaining following their Heineken Champions Cup exit on Saturday.

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England international Simmonds played the full 80 minutes of last weekend’s 13-8 round of 16 first leg European win over Munster at Sandy Park, but his name was missing on Friday when Rob Baxter named his team for the return leg in Limerick.

With Simmonds seated high in the Thomond Park stands watching the game unfold, he could only look on helplessly as Exeter went down to a 26-10 loss and a 34-23 aggregate defeat which means the English club have now been knocked out twice in succession by Irish teams in Europe since being crowned 2020 champions.

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Exeter are currently fourth in the Premiership and head to arch-rivals Saracens next weekend needing some points to keep at bay the multitude of challengers breathing down their neck in the race for the league playoffs. They will go there without Simmonds, who will hope he can come back into the equation for the May 20 match at Bristol instead and prove his fitness ahead of the summer tour of Australia with England.

“Hopefully, yes,” replied Exeter boss Baxter in Limerick when asked about the status of the injury that ruled Simmonds out of the knockout European tie. “It’s a hip/groin, a combination of a few things. He is sore, he is struggling to train really and that is the problem.

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“We can get him on the field but he is very limited training which fitness-wise and performance-wise, he is kind of on that downward spiral until we can sort this issue out. We are investigating that now, he will see the specialist this week but with all the scans and things, we are hopeful we will see him before the end of the season.

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“The Premiership becomes a weird competition now,” he added. “We have three rounds left but in between, we are going to have these significant breaks because we are out of Europe and if we don’t start collecting some points at Saracens next Sunday, you will start to wonder what is going to happen in those last few weeks because it could be a bit moot for us really.

“So we have got to dust ourselves down very quickly and we have got to get on to the things that we have got to do and attack the game. We have still got to try and keep the season interesting for ourselves,” he said, adding that the absence of four Lions against Munster – Simmonds, Luke Cowan-Dickie, Jonny Hill and Jack Nowell – wasn’t the deciding factor. “That is no issue because I thought we had a good side on the pitch today and we haven’t played well enough.”

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