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Baxter backs Nowell for England


Jack Nowell has been in fine form for Exeter

Jack Nowell has been in fine form for Exeter

Jack Nowell has been in fine form for Exeter

Exeter head coach Rob Baxter has backed Jack Nowell to shine for England should the Chiefs wing be recalled by Stuart Lancaster for next Sunday's RBS 6 Nations clash against Ireland in Dublin.

Nowell was released from England duty on Thursday and put in an impressive showing as Exeter recovered from a poor start to clinch an impressive 32-21 victory over Harlequins at the Stoop.

"That's a lad who has been away training with England all week," Baxter explained.

"He did a few minutes of the team run with the team yesterday and performed like he did today.

"If that's not a great test of character then what better one could he have had today? He knew he was going to have limited time with us and he knew a big performance was possibly going to get him in the running to play for England.

"If that's a test of character, then he's certainly come through with flying colours. He was exceptionally good again today, so if Stuart wanted to see him in a test. He's had one and he's done very, very well."

Trailing 8-0, and with Phil Dollman and Ian Whitten in the sin-bin, the Chiefs recovered brilliantly to lead 16-11 before the break thanks to a Ben White try and three Henry Slade penalties.

Slade stole the show in the second half with a try and a further three penalties to steer the Chiefs to victory as the Saxons number 10 finished with a 27-point haul.

"Sladey is playing very, very well," Baxter added.

"He kicked very maturely today both at posts and for field position. Everyone knows he's a very good defender and today he showed some really good attacking quality as well.

"He glided in for that try didn't he? He looked untouchable. He's got some fantastic attributes.

"Sladey's playing against some very good players in the England set-up. But, I think, sooner or later, if a player's going to have it all, he's the guy who's going to have the most complete package in the future."

Harlequins director of rugby Conor O'Shea cited a lack of confidence for his side's stuttering display.

An early Nick Evans touchdown and penalty gave Quins the perfect start, but O'Shea's men struggled to impose themselves in the second half as Exeter took control.

"There's no hiding place," O'Shea said.

"You can't fault the effort. I think the confidence isn't there because we've had a few blows along the way.

"It's not where we want to be as a club, but I wouldn't ever question the players after seeing what they did out there today in terms of reaction and what they're about."