Baxter's 'cautious' approach with winger
By Mark Stevens
Rob Baxter says Exeter Chiefs will happily take a 'cautious' approach in terms of managing Alex Cuthbert's return to full fitness.
The Wales and British Lions winger has featured and scored in the club's last two Gallagher Premiership fixtures against Newcastle Falcons and London Irish, but was replaced during the second half of the Irish game after reporting some tightness in his back and hamstring.
Having spent a lengthy period of time on the sidelines prior to his recent return to action, Chiefs' Director of Rugby Baxter says it's imperative that they do not overload the 30-year-old in terms of training and game minutes.
“At the moment, he's a bit sore,” said Baxter. “He has had a long injury period out, he started to tighten up, you could see how fantastically well he was playing, how well he played last week as well [against Newcastle], but he just started to stiffen up around his lower back.
“It was a bit of neural tightness and tension which was giving him some hamstring tightness, so we weren’t going to hang around so we got him off then. For us, there is no point in us getting someone back fit and then try to push him through something which has been an issue in the past.
“We took that precaution which means he is okay but he has got that and we are just going to be very careful as to whether we get him back quickly or whether we get him back to 100 percent before we get him back out on the field.
“We are just going to have to monitor him and look after him. It is early in his return so it is our responsibility to give him the right game time at the right time.”
The Chiefs will monitor Cuthbert closely during the remainder of this week, before deciding whether he will be fit for duty against Northampton Saints at Sandy Park on Saturday.
At the same time, Baxter will also run the rule over England and British Lions winger Jack Nowell, as well as South African forward Jacques Vermeulen, both of whom are now back in full training with the Devon club after surgery on toe and shoulder injuries respectively.
“This week we have had Jack Nowell back in full training and we are hoping that if his loading goes well he can be declared fit to play by the end of this week, because he is virtually in full training now," explained Baxter. “If he has no repercussions this week he could be cleared and available to be named in the squad on Friday.
"Equally, Jacques has had a full week of training this week and if his loading is all okay this week, he too could well be cleared by Friday, so it is obviously great to have those two guys back.”