All hail Simmonds as Exeter No.8 gives England a timely reminder

Sam Simmonds won the last of his seven England caps during the 2018 Championship.

Sam Simmonds won the last of his seven England caps during the 2018 Championship.

But after injury ruled him out of almost the entirety of last season, including the 2019 Rugby World Cup, the back-rower has begun this new campaign with a point to prove.

And it is becoming increasingly hard to see him being overlooked for Eddie Jones’ first squad selection in the New Year ahead of the 2020 Guinness Six Nations.

The 25-year-old bagged a double on Sunday as Exeter Chiefs took total control of their European pool with a fourth win in a row, despite their clash with Sale having to be stopped in the second half due to a hailstorm.

Only Garry Ringrose has scored more tries than Simmonds in Europe so far this season, but the No.8’s all-round game is in good working order as showcased by his magnificent covering tackle on Marland Yarde last week.

And his Chiefs head coach Rob Baxter certainly likes what he has seen: “We’re very pleased. We weren’t our fluid best in the first half but we grew as the game went on.

“Sam Simmonds is a huge momentum ball carrier for us. He’s making a difference to us this year and we’ve got to make sure that we maintain this momentum.”

Meanwhile in Sunday’s second game, Clermont Auvergne ran riot with eight tries in a 52-26 win over Bath.

The star of the show was probably Alivereti Raka, the French winger showing he is firing on all cylinders before a potential Championship debut next year.

Damian Penaud also impressed, scoring a try and being named man of the match as he switched to the wing early in the game, while Camille Lopez pulled the strings in fine style to give Fabien Galthié a reminder of his talents in a deep pool of French fly-halves.