Connect with us

Exeter Chiefs

Rob Baxter confident Tommy Wyatt will return a better player

Exeter Chiefs Director of Rugby Rob Baxter is confident young full-back Tommy Wyatt will return a better player following his lengthy spell on the side lines. 

Wyatt started the season in fantastic form, and quickly established himself as Exeter’s first choice fullback. His brilliant start to the season quickly turned sour though, as he sustained a ruptured ACL.

Speaking to the media today, Baxter said he’s confident the Taunton-native is using this injury lay-off to improve in other areas: “You do have to do a lot of hard work. there’s a time period of repair, but actually an awful lot of return from injury is based on how hard the player works to get that muscular strength back, to strengthen every area around the injury, get their body balance back. There’s a lot of things that are reliant on the player.

He added: “It’s going to be down to how hard Tommy works. I’m certain he will do everything he can to get back as soon as he can. He actually was talking about how this is the best opportunity to improve every area of his game he can, including his conditioning, it’s a chance for him to to grow strength in all the areas too.

“Players don’t often get long periods to work on their physical wellbeing; but he’s got that now and hopefully that means he’ll come back a better player than he was.”

Whilst Baxter was confident Wyatt will return a better player, he also detailed the academy graduate will still likely miss the start of next season.

“The reality is it’s a ruptured ACL,” he said. “He’s about three months in, and it’s a nine months recovery, so it’s unlikely he’s going to be there at the start of the season.”

“We didn’t know how good he was going to be”-Rob Baxter on Tommy Wyatt

Tommy Wyatt scoring-Credit: IMAGO

Tommy Wyatt had made a handful of appearances for the Chiefs before last season, however his form in their run to the Premiership Cup earned him a spot in the Chiefs Premiership and Champions Cup sides.

He quickly became a mainstay in the side, and notably played a big role in their Champions Cup victories over Montpellier and the Stormers. He also started the Champions Cup semi-final against La Rochelle. 

Wyatt only improved from there, and after regaining the 15 shirt at the start of this season quickly became one of Exeter’s main attacking threats.

Commenting on his form prior to injury, Baxter said he was pleasantly surprised by Wyatt’s quality: “We probably didn’t know how good he was going to be and he was just great wasn’t he? Right from the first game we played in the Premiership Cup he just was lethal.

He added: “I remember a break he made when we played Jersey and he caught the high ball and he’s just gone, literally just gone; stepping,  brushing off tackles. That’s the kind of thing he can do and he was doing that at the Premiership level, he did it over at Toulon.

“He’s going to be a very good player. I just hope he can come out from the injury quite fit and ready to go.”

Wyatt’s impact at the start of the season was rather special. He still sits fifth in the charts for meters made in the Premiership, with 740, despite his last outing coming in their 42-36 defeat to Northampton Saints in January.

Wyatt one of three youngsters to commit long-term future to the club

Tommy Wyatt, Niall Armstrong and Ben Hammersley-Credit: IMAGO

Wyatt’s form prior to injury also earned him a new deal with the Chiefs; but he was also one of three youngsters to sign a deal. Current Exeter University students Niall Armstrong and Ben Hammersley also penned new deals to keep them at Sandy Park, and Baxter said all three are part of the wider project at the club.

“I’m really, really pleased that we’ve got them tied down. They are the young guys who will improve over an extended period and I think they’re going to be key players for us here in the future.

He added: “This is the kind of thing we want to be doing. We want to be giving young guys a chance to be here for six or seven years and become internationals and Premiership winners. That’s the plan. We want to try and grow something that feels quite organic and feels good and is heading in the right direction and the players get on a fantastic journey together.”