Luke Cowan-Dickie may have played final Exeter match after sustaining nerve damage to neck
Luke Cowan-Dickie may have played his last game for Exeter ahead of his move to Montpellier, with nerve damage to his neck meaning the club are unable to put a timescale on his return.
The 29-year-old hooker previously underwent surgery to address an issue with his ankle, but was set to go for an assessment for his neck on Thursday to see when he may return. Exeter director of rugby Rob Baxter said the Rugby Football Union are also investigating to see if Cowan-Dickie’s recovery from the neck injury can be sped up with an eye on the Rugby World Cup later this year, but was unable to say definitively whether he would play for Exeter again this season.
Baxter said: “Everything is being poured into it and I feel a bit sorry for the guy because he’s a bit like a live experiment for everybody really. He’s desperate to get on with things as well. He is in a period of recovery and there’s nothing saying definitively here and now that he won’t be fit by the end of the season, but there’s also nothing saying definitively that he will be.”
The main cause for concern is nerve damage to Cowan-Dickie’s ankle which can take time to recover from, Baxter said, while noting that Cowan-Dickie had been like a “caged lion” around Exeter’s training ground.
Montpellier, who Exeter face this Sunday in the Champions Cup last-16 tie at Sandy Park, have not contacted Exeter for an update on Cowan-Dickie's injury. Reports in France earlier this week suggested that the England hooker’s move to the Top 14 could be in doubt because of the setback, with Baxter adding he expected the move to go ahead as planned.
“I don’t think anyone’s sitting here thinking the move is off,” he said. “I think everyone is thinking Luke’s going to make a decent recovery and he’s going to be ready to go and he’s going to be a very good player. That’s the overriding feeling around the club and we haven’t had any indication that that’s going to change.”
Baxter also hinted that Exeter could field a much-changed side featuring many younger players from the club’s Premiership Rugby Cup final win over London Irish who are “free of some of the baggage” affecting the team’s regular first-team players, who put in a disappointing performance last Sunday in a bonus-point defeat at Bath.