Exeter Chiefs have been handed an injury boost with news Joe Simmond’s ankle injury is not significant.
The Chiefs captain, who was awarded an MBE in the New Year’s Honours, injured his ankle when he twisted on it last weekend while taking a double tackle from Bristol Bears’ forward duo Steven Luatua and Nathan Hughes’ during Exeter’s 20-7 defeat in Round Six in the Gallagher Premiership.
The fly-half, who is one of the key play makers in Exeter’s double winning side, received lengthy treatment on the field and then played on with his ankle heavily strapped outside of the boot. He was replaced in the 74th minute.
However Chiefs director of rugby Rob Baxter revealed that with a two week break in the season due to Round Three and Four of the Heineken Champions Cup being postponed by tournament organisers EPCR following concerns from the French government over the spread of the new strain of Covid-19, Simmonds should be close to a return to action by the time rugby resumes when Exeter head to Worcester Warriors in the Gallagher Premiership on January 30.
Baxter revealed Joe Simmonds is expected to be out for three to four weeks.
He said: “He has picked up a little bit of an ankle ligament injury.
“The first prognosis is pretty good and with this break now dropping in as it is, he is not going to be far off playing by the time we resume so I guess that is a positive from the situation we are in.
“We feel we have been very lucky, Joe feels he has been really lucky, not to pick up anything too serious there.”
With club legend Gareth Steenson retiring at the end of the 2019/20 season, Chiefs find themselves a little short of options at fly-half should Simmonds be unavailable.
For the closing moments of the game against Bristol on Saturday, centre Henry Slade – a number 10 in his youth – moved into the role but he will almost certainly be away with England throughout the Six Nations which runs concurrently with the Gallagher Premiership this season.
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Other than that Baxter has the largely untested Jack Walsh, 21, and Harvey Skinner, 23, in his squad.
Walsh joined the Chiefs in July 2020 from Australian club side Manly Marlins and has so far made four appearances for the club, impressing with his running game having played 7s rugby for his country. The Florida-born Australian looks the man most likely to step up should he be needed.
Taunton-born Skinner has made 20 appearances for the club so far.