Jack Nowell “I’m still searching for my highlight of 2019”

Jack Nowell - ‘I’m still searching for my highlight” of 2019
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On the face of it, Jack Nowell has had a pretty special 2019, World Cup finalist, Premiership finalist and now Exeter is sitting pretty atop their Champions Cup pool undefeated.

However, for Nowell personally, the first two come with a tinge of frustration and injury curtailed his involvement in Japan and at Twickenham against Saracens.

When he was asked whether he had a highlight of 2019 he was very quick to say “no”. Nowell cut a frustrated yet driven figure. However, as we reach the turn of the decade his sole focus is around his performances for Exeter.

David Challis was able to sit down with Lions, England and Exeter star and pick his brains. He spoke openly about his frustrating experience in Japan, the position Exeter finds themselves in Europe and his goals for 2020 and beyond.

Rugby World Cup reflections

Jack only play a matter of minutes in Japan but was able to come up with a moment of magic against Argentina. Well-documented injuries and illnesses kept him out of the majority of the tournament.
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Nowell described his experience with the England squad as one filled with “a lot of emotions”. Listing just three of them he said “angry, upset, frustrated”. Despite his personal frustrations about how his World Cup went Nowell was quick to point out that he was “very privileged to go away with the team” and be a part of a special experience.

Returning to Exeter

Jack Nowell’s passion for Exeter Chiefs is plain for all to see. Although he now boasts international honours and acclaim, he still believes that it:

“means a lot more playing with kids you’ve grown up with”

As a result, Nowell said it was “easy to have that drive to come back”. Exeter is very much home for Nowell and he hopes that he can be a part of a successful season for the Chiefs on the field.

European Ambitions

Exeter finds themselves in somewhat uncharted territory this weekend. They have never won four games in the pool stages of the Champions Cup and have only qualified once. But they sit on 15 points with three wins from three so far and as Jack joked “we’re doing alright aren’t we”.

Jack Nowell and the rest of his team-mates know that they have achieved nothing yet as their dramatic qualification back in 2016 tells them that “things can change very quickly”.

Reflecting on previous years’ European performances Jack conceded that perhaps Chiefs were guilty of “not really playing our game”. Perhaps trying to adapt to much to referees and the style of European Rugby. Nowell used last weekend’s narrow victory over Sale as an example.

“A couple of years ago we might have lost that but this year, maybe luck is on our side”.

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The Sale Sharks challenge, and back-to-back fixtures ahead

The challenge of back-to-back fixtures against the same side is a unique one in club rugby. Nowell pointed “you can’t look too much into” that dynamic and that as a team they have to “expect them to do something different”.

Sale needs a win this weekend and will be going all guns blazing for their last shot at the competition. If they can pull off an upset then they could still qualify but it is up to Jack Nowell and his team-mates to stop them.

Exeter Chiefs back three ‘chemistry’

The arrival of Stuart Hogg has garnered much fan fair down in the South-West and the star-signing has not disappointed. Nowell notes that “he adds something a bit different” although he joked that “last week he hurt his new hair”.

Hogg left the field against Sale and failed and HIA. However, he maintains he place in the side after coming through the protocols this week. Director of Rugby Rob Baxter believes that the failed HIA potentially had more to do with a sickness bug going around the camp rather than a concussion.

Nowell was also quick to heap praise on other members of Exeter’s back three. Talking about Thomas O’Flaherty, who recently picked up the Premiership Player of the month, he said: “flats has been playing class for the last couple of years”. Which is why it is such a shame the flying winger has recently been picked up an injury.

Nowell believes that the competition and cohesion amongst the back-three at Exeter is a key factor in their performances.

“it’s a good job we’re so close down here because you push each other on”

Looking forward to 2020 and Beyond

Although 2019 has yet to provide Jack Nowell with a highlight he is optimistic about the years to come. The fire is still burning for international honours as well as another go around with Lions.

“playing for England and being involved for England is massive but I know they won’t come unless we are playing in big games and performing well”

He also provided a message of hope to Lions fans fearful that a shortened schedule would impact on the tour and the integrity of the Lions.

“I think no matter what the tour it’s proper old school, and that’s what fans love about it.”

The foundation for Nowell is his stringing performances together week to week. If he can do that there is no reason not to expect more caps for the Lions and England.

 

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