EXETER AND ENGLAND wing Jack Nowell has suffered a setback in his bid to recover from injury.
Nowell has not played this season after undergoing surgery on damaged toe ligaments, with his last appearance being Exeter’s Gallagher Premiership final victory over Wasps in October.
And Exeter rugby director Rob Baxter has revealed that Nowell “had another issue” as he got back into full training at the Chiefs, although he would not disclose details.
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“Unfortunately, Jack has had another issue as he has got back into full training, so I think it is going to be a little while before we see Jack,” Baxter said.
“At this stage, it is a bit early for me to give you the full extent of the injury. It is just one of those things.
“We kind of held Jack back for a week to give him a couple of weeks of full training.
“And unfortunately, later on in the second week, it was just one of those things he pulled up with another injury and now we are going to have to wait a little while longer to get him back to full fitness.”
Nowell won the last of his 34 England caps during the 2019 World Cup in Japan, while he toured New Zealand as a member of the 2017 British and Irish Lions squad.
And Baxter does not believe that Nowell’s hopes of making the Lions squad to face South Africa this summer will necessarily be affected by not playing Test rugby.
Baxter added: “He is a guy who loves playing rugby, loves training and getting on with things.
“And obviously he has got some concerns that this probably means he won’t play international rugby this (season), and there is a British and Irish Lions tour at the end of this season he is desperate to be involved with.
“He is very aware of those things.
“Without doubt, I know the Lions management will be looking at players beyond just those playing international rugby, especially those who have played international rugby recently and only haven’t been involved because of injuries like this.
“I am very aware his Lions selection will not only be decided on whether he has played for England, and the only thing I can encourage him to do is stay energised and rehab well and come back strong, and there will be enough rugby left with Exeter.
“Hopefully, we will be in those big games where he can showcase his talent. That is the only thing Jack can aim for now.”
Meanwhile, England lock Courtney Lawes faces being out for three months weeks after suffering a pectoral injury.
The Northampton forward, who has won 87 caps, was hurt during England training last week.
His Saints team-mate David Ribbans has been called into England’s Guinness Six Nations squad to bolster second-row resources ahead of their remaining games against France and Ireland.
Northampton said that Lawes will undergo surgery and he faces an approximate 12-week recovery period.
That would sideline him until late May or early June, meaning he will miss the overwhelming majority of Saints’ remaining Gallagher Premiership fixtures.
Whether it affects his British and Irish Lions squad selection hopes to face South Africa this summer remains to be seen.