Nowell played two finals with ruptured toe ligament

LONDON (Reuters) - After helping Exeter Chiefs win the English Premiership final on Saturday, winger Jack Nowell revealed that he had played for the last two weeks with a ruptured toe ligament that will now need surgery and rule him out of England’s Autumn programme.

Rugby Union - Premiership Final - Exeter Chiefs v Wasps - Twickenham Stadium, London, Britain - October 24, 2020 Exeter Chief's Jack Nowell in action with Wasps' Tom Willis and Thomas Young Action Images/Andrew Boyers

Nowell was something of an observer for much of the day as the packs slugged it out in appalling conditions, with Exeter emerging victorious 19-13 to complete the double after winning the European Champions Cup last week.

“I’ve ruptured the ligaments around my toe and had to dig deep a little bit,” Nowell told reporters. “I’ve not trained at all for two weeks so it’s something I have to get fixed and once I’ve sobered up I’ll find out.

“It’s been horrendous, it’s my big toe so any drive has been painful. I played in the final last week so spent the week trying to get the swelling out of it.

“But I would never have forgiven myself if I hadn’t given it a go and it’s great to be backed by the coaches.”

Exeter head coach Rob Baxter returned the compliment. “He’s battled through and done everything he can and you have to give him credit and to do that for the club when the international matches are coming along,” he said.

It was Exeter’s second victory in their fifth successive final and Baxter said his biggest emotion was relief after backing up last week’s win over Racing 92. “We have both trophies in the changing room and we can now celebrate last week as well as this,” he told reporters in the bowls of the empty Twickenham.

“We can stop and look back over a very good season and reflect on how important the guys have been and can really enjoy what they achieved.”

Looking back to the key moment minutes from time when Exeter hauled down a Wasps maul almost on their line but then stole the subsequent lineout, he said: “It could have been a killer punch.

“We controlled the second half really but hadn’t managed to open up the scoreboard and that created that awful scenario where one moment, one great kick, and you wonder if that will be the sucker punch that kills us,” he said of Lima Sopoaga’s remarkable 60-metre clearance that put Wasps in prime position as they trailed by three points.

“But we defended it really well and then finished the game off really well and you have to credit the fantastic quality of the players to do that.”

Reporting by Mitch Phillips, editing by Toby Davis