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Jack Nowell: Exeter winger backed to force England return

Exeter boss Rob Baxter believes Jack Nowell can force his way back into the England squad after being dropped by new head coach Steve Borthwick.

Nowell, 29, won the last of his 45 caps in November’s loss to South Africa.

He has yet to agree a new contract with the Chiefs for next season, with speculation he could move to France.

“I can quite easily see him demanding his way back into the squad with the quality of his performances,” Baxter told BBC Sport.

“The key for us, just as we always talked about when these guys were wanting to first play for England, the key for us as coaches is we create a platform for these guys to have that opportunity to play well and win big games and be part of big squads.

“That’s part of the process when you want someone to win their first cap, and that’s part of the process now when we want to help get Jack back into England recognition – it’s the same process, it just feels like different ends of the spectrum.”

Nowell, who won two caps for the British and Irish Lions in New Zealand in 2017, helped England win a Six Nations Grand Slam in 2015 and another title 12 months later.

He has also been part of the England squad at the last two World Cups and helped the Chiefs reach six Premiership finals – winning domestic titles in 2017 and 2020, as well as the 2020 European Champions Cup.

But he was one of a number of a number of high profile omissions from Borthwick’s first 36-man squad when it was announced on Monday – Saracens number eight Billy Vunipola and Gloucester’s experienced winger Jonny May were also excluded.

It does present Exeter fans with the chance to see more of their star winger before any potential departure as injuries and call-ups have limited Nowell to just 28 regular-season Premiership appearances since the last World Cup in Japan in 2019.

“If someone said to me I could have Jack Nowell available for every game I’d bite their hand off,” added Baxter.

“He’s been a great player for us, he’s a senior player who takes his role and how the players act, how the squad behaves, how we train, very seriously.

“In a lot of ways he’s one of our key men to have here in and around the club, so on the one hand I’m absolutely delighted he’s here, but on the other hand I do feel for him because he wants to play for England, so it’s a double-edged sword really.”

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