The post-op update from Leicester on Ollie Chessum's England injury
Leicester boss Richard Wigglesworth has given his view on the stellar progress made this season at international level by England pick Ollie Chessum prior to his recent nasty injury. Having debuted last season off the bench under Eddie Jones, the versatile second row who can also play six became a first-choice lock under new head coach Steve Borthwick in this year’s Guinness Six Nations.
Chessum played every minute of the initial four England matches in the 2023 championship but his hopes of full involvement were dashed by the training ground ankle dislocation he suffered in the training ground in Pennyhill on the Tuesday of the round five finale week versus Ireland.
That left the 22-year-old undergoing an operation last Monday that will deny him the chance of finishing out the current season with Leicester and leave him in a race to be fit in time for Rugby World Cup squad selection with England as the suggested rehabilitation period is between five to six months.
Interim Leicester coach Wigglesworth, who will exit Tigers at the end of May to take up a role on Borthwick’s England staff, confirmed there was no change to the timetable surrounding the return of Chessum. “No, I think it has all gone well,” he said of the surgery.
As for the emergence of Chessum as a vital cog in Borthwick’s Test pack. Wigglesworth added: “He has been quality, hasn’t he? You know, he has played really well for a long time. He played both six and second row to a really high standard.
“He is another player we are really lucky to have here at Leicester Tigers, he has a genuine desire to improve. A lot of people say they want to improve but actually doing something about it and working hard to make sure that you grow and grow as a player and put those performances on the international stage, he has done exceptionally well. Physically we can all see he is talented enough to play at the highest level, but he has got a mentality for it as well.”
Chessum was one of three Leicester youngsters who were regular starters in the recent Six Nations, joining Freddie Steward and Jack van Poortvliet as youthful selection favourites whose inclusion reflected positively on Tigers’ academy system. “There will be more than that as well in that group,” reckoned Wigglesworth.
“It helps to have a group of them that have come through at a similar time driving standards and pushing each other on. You see your mate being successful, you see what it requires to be successful, then that is another motivating factor. The group of them together are stronger than being apart so hopefully from Leicester’s point of view we will be able to keep them together for a long time because they will push this club on.”
The defending champions head into their latest Gallagher Premiership fixture this Saturday at home to Bristol in third place, but there is no guarantee of making the playoffs as just nine points separate third and ninth. Wigglesworth’s league record in charge since Christmas week is won five, lost three. Has that been good enough?
“I probably didn’t have a figure in mind, and I don’t think anybody can recall it being this tight and this congested in the middle. The top two (Saracens and Sale) have been better than the rest of us. That is why we have ended up with this chock-a-block in the middle which is great for the league but not so much if you are one of the coaches right in the middle of it.
“It has been really competitive, how sport should be. Naturally, as a team you will always look back at the ones that you could have, should have – but all the coaches will be doing that.”
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