Simmonds making good progress
By Mark Stevens
Director of Rugby Rob Baxter says Exeter Chiefs and England forward Sam Simmonds is making ‘good progress’ as he works his way back to full fitness.
After a stunning start to the new 2018/19 season, one in which he scored five tries in just four starts in the Gallagher Premiership, the 24-year-old saw his progress come to an abrupt halt when he ruptured his anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) in the 28-11 home win over Worcester Warriors in late September.
Not only was it an untimely blow for the dynamic forward, but also for his club and his country as he was set for an extended period of time on the sidelines, ranging between six and nine months.
Months down the line, Baxter has revealed Simmonds is indeed making good progress and that his injury is likely to fall into the lower ranges of that estimate. Indeed, the player is set to return to light training next week, but that it would still be at least three months before he could be considered for selection.
If that proves the case, Simmonds could well feature in the Chiefs’ end-of-season run-in, boosting his hopes of possible selection for England at this year’s Rugby World Cup in Japan.
“I would definitely expect to see him play some part this season,” Baxter said. “He is approximately half way through his rehab now. He is scheduled for about a six-month lay-off.
“Next week he will be out on the training field for the first time. He won’t be involved in proper training but he will start running, which is a positive sign. We will then keep a close eye on his reaction to his running load over the next 12 weeks.
“We have dealt with plenty of guys coming back from ACL injuries and always done a good job so I am sure it will be exactly the same with Sam.”
Despite the poor timing of the injury, Baxter admits he has coped well.
“He seems to have dealt with it well mentally. I have had several conversations with him asking about how he is getting along,” he said. “His standard reply is that he feels time is going by quite quickly now.”
As well as the positive news on Simmonds, Baxter also reported that fellow England international Jack Nowell is also ahead of schedule in his recovery from a hamstring injury and has returned to full training this week.
Wingers Olly Woodburn and Alex Cuthbert are also back in training, while Sam Hill should not be too far away after picking up a slight calf injury.