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Tom Johnson: Watching Exeter and England is making my recovery time go quicker

By Western Morning News  |  Posted: February 13, 2013

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It was almost nice to get a complete break during the first couple of weeks after my injury, but I'm starting to enjoy watching the rugby again now.

I was gutted for the Chiefs boys last Friday night up at Sale. I thought they had the game won but fair play to Sharks, who are in a relegation battle. They needed a massive performance and they dug deep.

It was points that went missing for us, unfortunately.

We will be playing at Saracens' new stadium this weekend and we sent a few guys up to have a look – even just to check out what studs the boys need to wear on their feet this weekend.

Sarries play a very controlled and pressurised game and we have to match that. We beat them here at Sandy Park and we need to try and get back to winning ways, applying the pressure on the opposition.

Thankfully, it looks like it is heading right way for England in the Six Nations at the moment. Everyone in that set-up deserves it because they work so hard.

I thought they were exceptional in horrendous conditions against Ireland on Sunday. As everyone has said, they played with a real maturity and it was a pleasure to watch.

You can also see how hard they are working on their image off the pitch too. During the interviews after the games, everyone comes across so much better now than before.

It is France next and I was expecting them to be right up there as the championship favourites, but they have fallen by the wayside.

But they have always got a performance in them and you can guarantee it will be against the English.

We also have to go to Wales on the last Saturday and Cardiff will be an unbelievable place to go. I thought Wales were very good for the win against the French last week.

Of course, I would love to be out on the pitch doing whatever I can for Chiefs and England. I'm badgering the physios and doing as much as I possibly can and I've started doing some leg weights now.

I haven't done anything with the bottom half of my body for nearly three weeks, so it will be quite refreshing to do something other than working on my upper body.

My injury might have been a season-ender or worse in years gone by, but the medical team here are some of the best I've worked with.

The conditioners here push you hard and that is why most of the boys don't like getting injured. It's not just because they miss game time – you also get worked harder than anyone else.

I'm also looking forward to working with the newest member of Chiefs' coaching team, Rob Hunter.

I've met Rob a couple of times, just in the corridors, but never had a proper chat with him. He has done some remarkable things with the England Under-20s and, with his history with Ali Hepher at Northampton, it bodes well.

Rob Baxter has done most of the work with the forwards in recent years but I doubt we will see any less of him because he is so instrumental to us.

It will maybe help to take the workload off him and perhaps a new forwards coach will be able to help us develop specific skills as individuals. It always has been a lot of players for Rob Baxter to manage, and he has done a fantastic job.

He expects high standards, as we all do, but he is pretty calm and level to talk to across the board.

He is in here 6.30am or 7am every day and the workload he is under means it makes sense to bring in an established forwards coach to help.

Rob Hunter's involvement with England Under-20s means it is an exciting time for the youngsters at our club. You can see what Jack Nowell has done this season and there are other guys right up there as well. They will really push for first-team spots in the near-future.

I was sad to see Lee Mears forced to quit the game because of a heart issue identified by cardiac screening that all Premiership players go through.

I played golf with him a few times and he is such a nice guy off the pitch. It is a sad way for him to go out.

He has got a young family as well as business prospects and he needs to make sure he can fulfil them.

Rugby is not the be-all and end-all and he needs to make sure his health is first and foremost.

It is probably a wise decision, even though it is not what everyone wanted. It will be a big loss to the game, especially Bath.

I wish him well.

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