Exeter Chiefs are nervously awaiting the outcome of a knee injury sustained by back-row Dave Ewers ahead of Saturday’s league trip to Wasps.
The 25-year-old, who was named in the Premiership team of the year for the 2014/15 season, has had a fine start to this campaign as well and become a key component of Rob Baxter’s side.
His bullish work on the gain-line and breakdown has led to many calling for him to be included in the England national side and with Eddie Jones soon to begin his reign at Twickenham, that opportunity may not be too far away.
However, any hopes of international recognition may have to be put on the back burner for now if Ewers’ knee injury is bad enough to keep him sidelined for any period of time.
“We have a few bumps and bruises and a couple of guys (Don Armand and Jack Yeandle) that came off during the [Harlequins] game, but it looks as if they will be OK,” Baxter told the Exeter website.
“We have a couple that have picked up bangs and they will have to be assessed this week. Dave Ewers has a blow to his knee that we are having to assess, but overall we are looking OK.”
Losing Ewers for any period of time would be a huge blow for the Chiefs with Baxter pointing to his performance against Harlequins last weekend as testament to what he can do. Many experts were purring over the display of England captain Chris Robshaw against Exeter, but Baxter felt that paled in significance compared to the shift put in by Ewers.
“I caught the tail end of a couple of highlight shows and it was interesting listening to what they said about Chris Robshaw,” added Baxter.
“He had a good game for Harlequins and quite rightly they were talking about him, but you can’t compare the game he had to the game Dave Ewers had. Dave Ewers had a monumental game.
“I know with Opta he’s been credited with 22 tackles, but with assists, I credited him with another five or six on top of that and he was close to the 30 tackle mark and four or five of them were genuine, big, solid stop-tackles.
“He did a huge amount of clear out work and made a massive contribution to our set piece. He also carried and made more hard yards than any other player on the field.
“It was a strange one for me to see Chris Robshaw being built up on the TV – I am not saying he didn’t have a good game – but he certainly wasn’t the best back row forward on the pitch.
“Dave is going well for us, but if he has to miss a few games, we have other back row forwards there that are good players that have a lot of experience and some good combinations.
"There is genuine quality there and any time Dave isn’t available, they will have to step up.”