Exeter boss Rob Baxter has welcomed tighthead Harry Williams back into the Chiefs fold with open arms after the forward was released from the England squad following their Guinness Six Nations defeat to Scotland last Saturday.
The 29-year-old played 18 minutes off the bench at Twickenham in what was his first appearance at Test level since August 2019. It was Williams’ 16th cap as a replacement in his 19-cap career and he has now been deemed surplus to requirement for England’s round two game versus Italy as Kyle Sinckler has finished his suspension.
Williams’ existence in the ‘nearly’ zone with England has often seen him picked in squads by Jones and then getting released back to Exeter in midweek. Baxter has now reported the reaction from his player has been no different this week to his latest England setback, Williams telling him he wants to play in Exeter’s Premiership match next Saturday at home to London Irish.
“It’s one of those bittersweet things because the reality is we all kind of feel for Harry when he gets brought out the international environment because we all rate him very highly here,” said Baxter about the England rejig where Williams was one of two players released by Jones after the loss to Scotland.
“Our preference would much be for him to be with England. We know he is desperate to play as high a level of rugby as he can and desperate to play for England. It feels great for us on a team perspective to have him back in our side but there is always that hint of disappointment when one of your players who is currently in the international environment gets dropped back out of it.
— RugbyPass (@RugbyPass) February 9, 2021
“Personally, it’s great for us and a little bit of a shame for Harry. But the really nice thing when you talk to Harry is he comes at you the minute he gets told he is leaving the England camp. I say, ‘Alright, Harry how are you, how have things gone?’ And he doesn’t whinge or moan, he just goes, ‘Please pick me this weekend’.
“It’s a nice scenario to be in. He doesn’t go, ‘Can you please give me a rest this weekend?’ Every time he speaks to me after he gets released he goes, ‘Can you pick me this weekend? I’m desperate to play’. Whether that is one day’s preparation or whether it is a full week, he is a great character to have back in the team.”
“We put 61 points on them at Twickenham a few years ago, we played ball in hand, heads up attack – where has all that gone in England’s performances?"
— RugbyPass (@RugbyPass) February 10, 2021
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