Rob Baxter confirms Jack Nowell will likely leave as one of six departures - Ruck

Rob Baxter confirms Jack Nowell will likely leave as one of six departures

Director of Rugby Rob Baxter has revealed that Exeter Chiefs are preparing for Jack Nowell’s exit after 10 years at Sandy Park.

The 29-year-old, who is closing in on 50 England caps, made his Exeter debut in 2012 and has clocked up more than 150 appearances.

Asked if he was planning to be without Nowell next season, Baxter said: “Yes. I’ve got to plan that he won’t be here. That’s the current situation.

“With Jack, it has been very open in all the conversations. There haven’t been any problems.

“I am not asking Jack every day what is going on and he is not asking me every day what is going on.

“The agreement we’ve got is that if I find a replacement player who I like the look of, we are going to sign them. He is aware of that. Jack is currently looking in the market of what he wants to look at.

“If he comes back to me pre us signing anybody, we can talk. If he comes back post us signing someone who has replaced him and the salary cap room is not there, then it’s not there.

“It is a very open scenario. I am assuming he is not here and I think he is assuming he’s going.

“As much as there is no contract been signed – and there is no definitive answer for you – we are moving on. If that answers your question, that’s all I can say.

“If ‘Nowellsy’ turns around to me, walks up and says ‘go on then Rob, let’s sit down and try and get a contract’, then I would be delighted.”

Exeter Chiefs set to lose SIX first team players for next season

Exeter director of rugby Rob Baxter certainly has a tough balancing act on his hands to keep his squad intact ahead of the 2023/24 season.

Director fo Rugby Rob Baxter had to let the likes of Jonny Hill, Sam Skinner and Tom O’Flaherty leave the club this summer after being unable to match their wage offers elsewhere due to the reduced £5m salary cap all Premiership clubs are operating under this season.

The potential departure of at least one club stalwart and as many as six next summer means it could be the end of an era at Sandy Park. 

#1. Sam Simmonds

The number 8 has already confirmed this will be his final season with the Chiefs as a move to Top 14 heavyweights Montpellier has already been agreed.

“I knew that that decision of playing abroad, you wouldn’t be able to be selected for England, but for me I felt like I’m focused on the here and now,” he told BBC Radio 5 Live. 

“I feel like I can still have such an effect in an England shirt, such an effect in an Exeter Chiefs shirt for the next 12 months now, and I think I’m at peace with that decision.

“There’s plenty of players that are going to be coming up behind me and I felt that it was the right time to make a decision for after the World Cup to pursue a new life in France, and for my family and for me to experience that because I have loved my time at Exeter, but I haven’t experienced anything outside of Devon,” he added.

“I feel it was the right decision at the right time and we’ll see how it goes.

“We’ve seen what’s happened recently with clubs unfortunately in England, so it’s a decision I’ve thought about a lot, but ultimately felt like I needed to make that decision.”

Sam Simmonds (Exeter Chiefs, 7 caps) during England Rugby training session at The Lensbury Hotel, Teddington, London on 28 Sept 2021. Photo: Phil Mingo/PPAUK

#2. Luke Cowan-Dickie

 According to the Mail Online, he’s signed a massive contract post 2023 Rugby World Cup, where he will earn more than £300k *post tax* per year with Montpellier.

“Playing for England is the pinnacle of your career, so it’s tough to leave that behind,” Cowan-Dickie told the Chiefs website.

“We’ve got the Six Nations coming up, then the World Cup, and I want to be involved in both.”

Cowan-Dickie has spent more than a decade at Sandy Park making 163 appearances, scoring 36 tries and winning the European Champions Cup in 2020 and two English Premiership titles.

“It’s gutting to be leaving,” he said.

“I’ve been at the Chiefs for 12 years and it’s all I’ve known. That said, this opportunity came up and it was one that I had to think long and hard about.”

Exeter Chiefs player Luke Cowan-Dickie during the warm up before Gallagher Premiership Match between Wasps and Exeter Chiefs at the Coventry Building Society Arena, Coventry on October 16th – PHOTO: Steve Bond/PPAUK