Luke Cowan-Dickie ‘like a caged lion’ as England hooker continues rehabilitation

The Exeter forward has not played since early January.
Luke Cowan-Dickie ‘like a caged lion’ as England hooker continues rehabilitation
Luke Cowan-Dickie is continuing his recovery from an ankle injury (Steve Haag/PA)

England hooker Luke Cowan-Dickie is “like a caged lion” as he continues his recovery from an ankle injury, according to Rob Baxter.

The Exeter forward has not played since early January, missing England’s entire Guinness Six Nations campaign.

He will join French heavyweights Montpellier – Exeter’s Heineken Champions Cup last-16 opponents on Sunday – after the World Cup later this year.

Luke Cowan-Dickie suffered an ankle injury in January (David Davies/PA)

But there is still a chance that 41 times-capped Cowan-Dickie could return to Chiefs colours before the current campaign finishes.

England’s opening World Cup warm-up match, meanwhile, is against Wales on August 5.

Exeter rugby director Baxter said: “He is having an assessment today, which will give him some guidance about how the injury is recovering.

“The RFU (Rugby Football Union) are also investigating various things to see if there is anything they can do to speed up his recovery, because obviously they are concerned World Cup-wise.

There is nobody at the club who wants Luke Cowan-Dickie to be fit more than me

“Everything is being poured into it, and I feel a bit sorry for the guy because he is a bit like a live experiment for everybody, really.

“He is in a period of recovery, and there is nothing saying definitively here and now that he won’t be fit by the end of the season, but there is also nothing saying definitively that he will be.

“There is nobody at the club who wants Luke Cowan-Dickie to be fit more than me, because when he’s walking around he is an absolute nightmare when he is not playing!

“He is like a caged lion at the moment, prowling around, trying to get on with things. If he he can get fit for us before the end of the season and before the World Cup, he will be flying.”

Recent reports in France suggested Cowan-Dickie’s Montpellier move could be threatened due to concerns over an apparent neck issue.

But Baxter added: “Montpellier haven’t been in touch with us. I don’t think anyone is sitting here thinking the move is off.

“I think everyone is thinking Luke is going to make a decent recovery and he is going to be ready to go and he is going to be a very good player.

“That is the overriding feeling around the club, and we haven’t had any indication that that is going to change.”

While Cowan-Dickie and the likes of his Exeter colleagues Sam Simmonds and Dave Ewers will depart Sandy Park following the current campaign, Baxter must also prepare for life without Scotland international full-back Stuart Hogg.

Hogg, 30, will retire from rugby after the World Cup, with his announcement coming just over a fortnight after he clocked up 100 Scotland caps.

Baxter added: “I have to say that when he first talked about it (retirement), it was a bit of a surprise – yes.

“But then when he talked about the reasons for it, what he wanted to do and how he wanted to achieve the end of his career, it made a lot of sense.

Stuart Hogg in try-scoring action for Exeter (Simon Galloway/PA)

“He did take a period of time. It wasn’t a snap decision. It was largely based – for all the right reasons – on his enjoyment of the game.

“I think he just really wants to have a period when he can relax and enjoy it and not worry about the state his body is going to be in, in six months’ time, but get on and maximise everything now, in the last stage of his career.

“He is someone for whom enjoyment has always been a key factor in playing.

“If that starts to get tougher because of your physical condition, it takes a lot out of the whole point of playing rugby. I think that is really the decision that Stuart has come to.”

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