Exeter Chiefs boss Rob Baxter has provided a positive injury update on Scotland fullback Stuart Hogg as the countdown to this season’s Six Nations continues, while he has backed Jack Nowell to bounce back from his England omission.
Hogg has been sidelined for Exeter’s last three matches, including the Champions Cup defeat to the Bulls last weekend, due to a heel injury.
However, Baxter believes Hogg is on track to be fit for the opening Six Nations match against England on February 4.
“The heel is improving,” Baxter said.
“We gave him until the Saturday before we flew (to South Africa). He still couldn’t run with pace or any distance.
“It is an improving picture, but he is still not training.
“It is not like a significant ligament or cartilage (problem) or something like that, so there is an expectation he will come through this in time for the Six Nations.”
Despite his injury, Hogg was named in Gregor Townsend’s 40-man squad for the Six Nations.
The experienced fullback is near his centurion cap, having racked up 96 appearances ahead of the competition; comfortably the side’s most capped player.
After their Calcutta Cup clash with England, Scotland will host Wales at Murrayfield.
Nowell to bounce back
Meanwhile, Baxter believes Chiefs winger Jack Nowell will quickly bounce back from the disappointment of not making England’s Six Nations squad.
Nowell was one of the big-name absentees from Steve Borthwick’s maiden squad, with Gloucester wing Jonny May and Saracens number eight Billy Vunipola also snubbed.
“He will be disappointed because he is a very competitive man,” Baxter said.
“I can quite easily see him demanding his way back into the squad with the quality of his performances.
“If someone said to me I would have Jack Nowell available for every game (during the Six Nations), I would bite their hand off; of course, I would. He’s been a great player for us; he is a senior player.
“On the one hand, I am absolutely delighted he is here, but on the other hand, I feel for him because he wants to play for England. It’s a double-edged sword, really.
“I am sure he can deal with this. I wouldn’t be surprised if you see almost a man-of-the-match performance from him on the weekend.”
Exeter are in action in the Champions Cup this weekend, with Baxter’s charges looking to finish the pool stages strongly at home against Castres.
The Premiership outfit have already booked their place in the round of 16 despite losing to the Bulls last week.
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