Exeter Chiefs director of rugby Rob Baxter has sympathised with Luke Cowan-Dickie as he feels the injured England hooker has turned into a “live experiment”.
Cowan-Dickie was absent from the Six Nations due to an ankle problem and it is touch and go whether he will feature for Exeter before the end of the season.
Being assessed today
“He is having an assessment today, which will give him some guidance about how the injury is recovering,” he said.
“The RFU (Rugby Football Union) are also investigating various things to see if there is anything they can do to speed up his recovery, because obviously they are concerned World Cup-wise.
“Everything is being poured into it, and I feel a bit sorry for the guy because he is a bit like a live experiment for everybody, really.
“He is in a period of recovery, and there is nothing saying definitively here and now that he won’t be fit by the end of the season, but there is also nothing saying definitively that he will be.
“There is nobody at the club who wants Luke Cowan-Dickie to be fit more than me, because when he’s walking around he is an absolute nightmare when he is not playing!
“He is like a caged lion at the moment, prowling around, trying to get on with things. If he can get fit for us before the end of the season and before the World Cup, he will be flying.”
It was suggested recently that Cowan-Dickie’s move to Montpellier is in doubt due to an apparent neck injury, but Baxter believes the transfer remains on.
🗣️ "The hooker’s move could be blocked by French medical officials."
🏴 Luke Cowan-Dickie's move to Montpellier could be blocked by French officials.https://t.co/nA6av4Uks9
— Planet Rugby (@PlanetRugby) March 23, 2023
“Montpellier haven’t been in touch with us. I don’t think anyone is sitting here thinking the move is off,” he added.
“I think everyone is thinking Luke is going to make a decent recovery and he is going to be ready to go and he is going to be a very good player.
“That is the overriding feeling around the club, and we haven’t had any indication that that is going to change.”
The hooker’s impending departure is one of several from the Premiership club, with Sam Simmonds and Dave Ewers two others set to sign off from Sandy Park.
However, the most surprising exit was Scotland international full-back Stuart Hogg, with Baxter admitting the news came as a shock to the coaching staff.
Hogg decision a surprise
“I have to say that when he first talked about it (retirement), it was a bit of a surprise – yes,” he said.
“But then when he talked about the reasons for it, what he wanted to do and how he wanted to achieve the end of his career, it made a lot of sense.
“He did take a period of time. It wasn’t a snap decision. It was largely based – for all the right reasons – on his enjoyment of the game.
“I think he just really wants to have a period when he can relax and enjoy it and not worry about the state his body is going to be in, in six months’ time, but get on and maximise everything now, in the last stage of his career.
“He is someone for whom enjoyment has always been a key factor in playing.
“If that starts to get tougher because of your physical condition, it takes a lot out of the whole point of playing rugby. I think that is really the decision that Stuart has come to.”