Full steam ahead for Cowan-Dickie
By Mark Stevens
Luke Cowan-Dickie hopes his cameo role off the bench in Sunday's Anglo-Welch Cup win over the Scarlets is the start point to a big few months ahead for the Exeter Chiefs hooker.
The Cornishman made his first appearance since last May's Aviva Premiership final win over Wasps when he played for 34 minutes in his side's 40-0 success at the Parc Y Scarlets.
Surgery this summer on a troublesome knee injury had kept the 24-year-old sidelined up until that point, but he wasted little time in reminding the Chiefs coaching staff of his undoubted talents, producing one of his trademark all-action, energetic displays.
Returning to the fray alongside Dave Ewers, another who has been on the club's long-term injury list, the duo will be hoping to step up their return to competitive action in the coming weeks as the Chiefs prepare for Premiership tests against Harlequins, Saracens and Bath, before embarking on a European double-header against Leinster in December.
"Obviously it was to get out there after such a long time, get some game time under my belt, and come away with a good win," said the England international. "It's been a tough few months of rehab and working to get back to fitness, but hopefully that's all behind me and now I can look to push on over these next few weeks."
With rehab buddies Ewers, Sam Hill, Alec Hepburn and Ollie Devoto also returning to full fitness in the past few weeks, Chiefs Director of Rugby Rob Baxter is sure to be buoyed by the extra playing options at his disposal.
"It was good to see a few of the other boys back out there as well," continued Cowan-Dickie. "Getting that first game out of the way is key and now we'll all look to push on.
"Getting back into the side, though, is going to be tough. Yenz, Malts and Vis have all been playing well this season, so I know I am going to have to work hard to try and force my way back in."
On Sunday's showing, however, Cowan-Dickie should not take too long to get back up to speed as he was part of an Exeter outfit that brushed aside their Welsh rivals with a six-try victory. Three of those tries came through penalty tries in the second half, when the powerful Chiefs pack bullied the life out of their opposite numbers.
"The first half was tight and we had to front up and put in quite a few sets of defence," added Cowan-Dickie. "That said, we always back our intensity and our fitness levels to come through and that is what happened in the second half."
In what was a strong Chiefs line-up, including six internationals within the ranks, the Scarlets simply had no answer in the end to the power, pace and precision of their England rivals.
"We've got really good depth to the squad now," said Cowan-Dickie. "That's been built up over the lasr few years, but whatever team we put out, it's going to be strong and packed with players who you know can perform at the top end. It's a great position to be in as it's helping bring the best out of all of us."