Luke Cowan-Dickie is seeing a specialist today in bid to be fit for England’s pre-World Cup camp… with Exeter hoping to fast-track his rehab ahead of his summer move to Montpellier
- The 29-year-old suffered serious damage to his joint during a match in January
- Cowan-Dickie is seeing a specialist on Thursday to assess his recovery
Luke Cowan-Dickie is seeing a specialist on Thursday to assess his recovery from ankle surgery, which England want to ‘speed up’ – while Exeter are unsure whether he will play for them again.
The Chiefs’ 29-year-old hooker suffered serious damage to the joint during a Premiership clash with Northampton in January and he had an operation which meant he missed the Six Nations. His club are desperate to fast-track his rehab so he can make a comeback before a summer move to Montpellier – and his country are desperate to ensure he is fit for a pre-World Cup training camp.
Asked for an update on Cowan-Dickie’s progress, Exeter’s director of rugby, Rob Baxter, said: ‘He is having an assessment today, which will give him some guidance about how the injury is recovering. I think he’s got another one (assessment) in a few weeks’ time. The RFU are also investigating various things to see if there’s anything they can do to speed up his recovery, because they’re concerned World Cup-wise.
‘Everything is being poured into it and I feel a bit sorry for the guy because he’s 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.’
Baxter played down any suggestion that his Lions front-rower’s painstaking rehab programme has stalled – emphasising that it just requires patience. ‘The issue at the moment is nerve recovery and for any kind of nerve damage and recovery, that just takes time,’ he added.
Exeter’s Luke Cowan-Dickie suffered an ankle injury during a Premiership clash in January
England are concerned Cowan-Dickie (left) may not be fit enough to play at the World Cup
‘There are some where a surgeon or a specialist might say, ‘This is as good as it’s going to get’, but that is quite rare. Mostly, they have a look and say, ‘This has improved since the last time we assessed you, six weeks ago, so we are still on an improvement curve’. That’s where Luke is at the moment; on an improvement curve.
‘What has to happen is that that curve has to be maintained, to get him back to full fitness. Where that recovery stops will determine where he ends up on his fitness pathway. So it’s not necessarily a plateau, it’s just that time has to pass.’
There is no doubt about Cowan-Dickie’s motivation to come through this difficult phase and play for the Chiefs again. Baxter painted a picture of a player who is a bundle of noisy, pent-up energy behind the scenes, saying: ‘There’s nobody at the club who wants Luke Cowan-Dickie to be fit more than me, because when he’s walking around, he’s an absolute nightmare when he’s not playing! He’s bad enough when he is playing!
‘Sometimes, the only thing you can hear around the club is Luke, just screaming at the physios to move to the next session or get on with this or that, or he’ll grab one of the S&C coaches to work with him. He is like a caged lion at the moment, prowling around, trying to get on with things.
‘So 100 per cent, if he can get fit for us before the end of the season and before the World Cup, he will be flying. There’s every good reason to get him fit because he will fly into it with absolute abandon. That part of it is without doubt.
The 29-year-old may not play for Exeter again as he is set to move to Montpellier in the summer
‘He isn’t walking around with his head down saying, ‘poor me’, it’s almost the other way round. If he is going to get back quickly, it is that part of his character which will drive him as much as anything else.’
Montpellier are the visitors at Sandy Park on Sunday for a last-16 encounter with Exeter in the Champions Cup. Sam Simmonds has signed to join the French title-holders after this season, as has Cowan-Dickie – and Baxter does not anticipate any threat to that move despite the serious injury which has blighted his final season in Devon.
‘Montpellier haven’t been in touch with us,’ he said. ‘I don’t know the state of his contract with them – I don’t know the clauses in it. That’s not for us to get involved with. I saw him this morning. I know he’s seeing a specialist today. I wished him well.
‘I don’t think anyone’s thinking the move is off. 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 over-riding feeling around the club and we haven’t had any indication that that’s going to change.’
Post source: Daily mail