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Jack Nowell excited by Heineken Cup challenge with Toulon

By Western Morning News  |  Posted: December 14, 2013

By Bill Sobey

Jack Nowell excited by Heineken Cup challenge with Toulon

Cornish wing Jack Nowell

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Exeter Chiefs’ game-plan will be much the same for their Heineken Cup return fixture with Toulon, according to Jack Nowell.

Cornish-born back Nowell earned widespread recognition for his performance in the Devon club’s 14-9 defeat to the reigning European champions last weekend.

His own head coach Rob Baxter suggested he might be in line for a call-up to England’s Six Nations squad.

Even opponents, such as Bryan Habana last week, have been quick to praise him on social media. “Well played today, mate. Looking forward to watching your career go from strength to strength,” wrote the celebrated Springbok wing on his Twitter account.

Reflecting this week, Nowell said: “To get a tweet from Bryan Habana was pretty big for me. To be noticed by someone like that after playing against him was massive. It really gives me the urge to carry on doing what I’m doing.

“I really enjoyed myself, I had a couple of lucky breaks, you could say. I made some mistakes too and have a lot more to learn. Hopefully, this week I can do some of that again.”

After losing so narrowly, that sentiment of doing much the same applies to the whole team.

Nowell said: “We’ve got our own game-plan that works when we perform well. We respect the opposition, but it is all about us.

“We came out straight from the start against Toulon and showed what we’re about.

“It was massive for us. I really enjoyed myself out there, as did the rest of the boys. We were just a bit gutted not to get the win.

“It is obviously going to be very difficult this week. It will be a different game, but for us it is about imposing our game again and we have to take out the fact they’ve got all their support there. We want to go out and do what works for us and get the win.”

Certainly, the younger Chiefs will no longer feel star-struck in the face of Habana and fellow World Cup winners such as Jonny Wilkinson.

Although, Nowell, who was just nine when Wilkinson’s drop-goal won the World Cup for England in 2003, said it was a surreal experience at first last weekend.

He said: “If you asked us three years ago if we would be playing against Toulon, against those players, and if we would be disappointed to lose, nobody would have believed it.

“Watching Jonny Wilkinson as I was growing up, I always thought he was a great player. To play against him was massive but it was in many other ways just another player on the other side and you do whatever you can to get around him. The first couple of minutes, I had to put that out of my head.

“We’ve done the first game now, we’ve played them and we want to take it to them this weekend.”

Nowell retains his place on the wing but Baxter has made six changes to his starting XV. James Hanks and Don Armand come into the forwards for Damian Welch and Ben White. In the backs, Henry Slade, Ian Whitten, Haydn Thomas and Tom James replace Gareth Steenson, Jason Shoemark, Dave Lewis and Matt Jess.

Exeter Chiefs: Arscott; Nowell, Whitten, Dollman, James; Slade, Thomas; Moon, Yeandle, Tui; Mumm (capt), Hanks; Johnson, Armand, Ewers. Replacements: Whitehead, Sturgess, Brown, Welch, White, Chudley, Sweeney, Hill.

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