Sam Simmonds: Exeter boss Rob Baxter backs forward to return to England squad

By Brent PilnickBBC Sport
The Simmonds brothers: We chat to the Exeter Chiefs players now chasing the double double.

Exeter director of rugby Rob Baxter is confident forward Sam Simmonds will win many more England caps in his career.

The 26-year-old, whose last Test was in March 2018, was named European Player of the Year in October after finishing as top try-scorer in the Champions Cup last season.

The back row also scored a hat-trick against Harlequins last week.

"If Sam thinks his international career is gone he'd be completely wrong," Baxter told BBC Sport.

"I'm very confident that there's plenty of international caps ahead for him.

"He's just got to keep performing at a level that when that opportunity comes he's ready to go absolutely flat out."

Sam Simmonds in action for England against Italy
Simmonds has not played for England in more than two-and-a-half years

Number eight Simmonds won seven caps for England in the 2017-18 season, starting on four occasions.

He scored two tries in England's 46-15 Six Nations win over Italy in Rome in February 2018, but Simmonds has not featured for his country since England lost to Ireland in their final game of that tournament.

"The reality is that every squad has a make-up of players within it and what he has to do is keep playing to the best of his abilities, and I'm not saying wait, but create a scenario where his abilities and his attributes fit into the back five of an England pack," added Baxter.

"It's simple and it's difficult at the same time. He's not going to suddenly become Billy Vunipola.

"Are there other positions there where you might have a different make-up of a back row? It might well be that if England select in a different way with a bigger six then Sam becomes the ideal number eight.

"It's going to be a little bit more like that, and that can happen quickly or it can happen over a period of weeks and months. So all Sam can keep doing is play at his absolute best, play in the way he plays and making the most of his attributes."

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