Fighting fit Nowell ready to use Premiership season as springboard

A summer of rest and recuperation was just what the doctor ordered for Jack Nowell and now he’s hoping to use his club form to keep himself firmly on Eddie Jones’ radar.

A summer of rest and recuperation was just what the doctor ordered for Jack Nowell and now he’s hoping to use his club form to keep himself firmly on Eddie Jones’ radar.

Winger Nowell opted not to tour South Africa with England this summer – a decision he concedes was tough to make – instead choosing to use the off-season to make a full recovery from the knocks and niggles that slowed him at times last term.

The 25-year-old is focused on impressing for club side Exeter Chiefs when the Premiership season gets under way this weekend but he does have one eye on the autumn internationals and 2019 Six Nations.

The Chiefs lost to Saracens in May’s Premiership final, falling one game short of defending their title, but Nowell is eager to soar even higher as he targets an injury-free campaign.

“I’ve had a really good off-season where I have had the chance to really rest mentally and physically,” he explained.

“I had a lot of niggles last season and my ankle was almost being held on by tape by the end!

“I think, as tough as it was to miss the chance of going on a summer tour with England and play against South Africa, it’s a decision that you need to sensibly make and it’s one that will hopefully let me kick on.

“Last season, for me, was a bit of an upsetting one. I had a lot of injuries and spent a lot of time trying to get fit again – hopefully, I can put that behind me.

“I always say that if you are fit for your club and you are playing well, you are going to get picked for England.

“The big thing is trying to stay away from injuries, stay fit and hopefully, I have done enough this off-season to get my body more robust and to stop getting injured.”   Youngs excited by centre partnership

Another England back who has struggled with injuries in recent years is Manu Tuilagi but club tea-mate Ben Youngs is excited to see the powerhouse combine with new signing Kyle Eastmond in Leicester Tigers’ midfield.

Tuilagi’s most recent England appearance came in March 2016, with a slew of injuries sidelining him in the years since.

He looks set to recover from minor knee surgery in time for the start of Tigers’ campaign this weekend and 77-cap scrum-half Youngs thinks the 27-year-old can form a potent double act with Eastmond – another England international, who has joined from Wasps.

“Manu is doing great, running around, hitting into things,” said Youngs. “And Kyle is a couple of weeks into life at Leicester and already starting to call it home.

“Kyle’s knowledge of how to play with George Ford is great for us as well. We have had some great boys come in and they are already adding to the squad.

“Everyone works very hard but you don’t know how you are going to get on until the season gets under way.

“With the squad and the guys that we have added, we are certainly where we want to be. We have got more consistency now in terms of the strength that we have added to the pack.

“You would like to think that we would be a lot more consistent than our performances last year. We want to work hard and we want a team that’s committed to each other and grafting.”   Te’o on the comeback trail

One man who won’t be on the field when the new Premiership season gets underway however is Ben Te’o.

The Worcester Warriors centre appeared in all five England games during the 2018 Six Nations but a quad injury suffered in training camp ahead of the summer tour that ruled him out of the South Africa trip is still lingering.

He’s still rehabilitating alone but is keen not to push himself too far so that he can contribute for both club and country later this season.

“It’s just going through the process of getting my leg strong again,” said Te’o.

“When I’m right and I feel confident that I can push off and step and cut, then I’ll play but it’s just one of those things.

“You’ve got to work your way through the rehab stages, and it’s frustrating but it is what it is with these injuries, especially when you’ve had surgery.”