Connect with us

Exeter Chiefs

Rob Baxter provides injury updates on key players Jonny Gray, Christ Tshiunza and Josh Hodge

Rob Baxter has confirmed injured stars Jonny Gray, Christ Tshiunza and Josh Hodge are all close to full fitness, with the Premiership break meaning all three could return ahead of round 13.

The Chiefs are set to welcome Gray’s former employers Glasgow Warriors to Sandy Park this weekend, but unfortunately the clash has come too soon for the Scottish international.

Speaking to members of the media ahead of the game, Baxter detailed where Gray is with his return to play: “we’re hopeful he’ll be fit during the break period before we resume the Premiership.”

He added: “By the time we get back into the Premiership he should be up and running and in full training.”

Gray sustained a knee injury in the Chiefs Champions Cup semi-final defeat to La Rochelle last season, and it was originally believed to be a six month injury, however Baxter today confirmed Gray has seen his return to the pitch ‘knocked back’

“I mean initially six months would have been around about the start of the Premiership. That’s been knocked back by a little bit and it’s carried on getting knocked back as things have gone along.”

Another key forward missing for the Chiefs at the moment is Welsh international Christ Tshiunza.

Tshiunza was a part of Wales’ World Cup squad last Autumn, however the powerful back-rower picked up a foot injury and hasn’t featured for the Chiefs so far this season.

Baxter touched on his fitness, however the young forward has recently suffered an ‘unfortunate setback’.

“He’s had a little bit of an unfortunate setback. in his first session where he was pitch running and changing direction and putting a little bit more force through the foot, he had a little bit of reaction, a little bit of swelling and a little bit of pain,” said Baxter.

He added: “That’s settled down very quickly, fortunately, but obviously it means he has to go through that process again and hopefully it settles down quicker.

Tshiunza burst onto the scene in 2021 for the Chiefs, and he quickly established himself as a key man in Rob Baxter’s side. He would go onto win his first Wales cap in October of that year, and has since won an additional nine caps.

Baxter added that Tshiunza isn’t ‘far off’ a return: “He’s not far off, he’s in that end stage, but he’s not quite there yet. We just gradually move up through this phase over a couple of weeks, and then he’s back on full training hopefully.”

Lastly, Baxter confirmed young back Josh Hodge was the closest of the three, with the former Newcastle Falcon back training in the infamous ‘red bib’.

“He was pretty much in full training today, he’s been running around like a mad thing as you’d expect. He was in a red bib though, so no one was allowed to knock him over too hard,” said the Chiefs Director of Rugby.

Baxter also confirmed Hodge could possibly see a return to action as early as next Monday, with the Chiefs putting out a side to face Exeter University at Sandy Park.

“We’ve got the game against the University on Monday,” said Baxter. “It would have been lovely to have got him out there, to give him some genuine game time, but the reality is he’s probably just a little bit behind that.

If Hodge is unavailable for the clash against the University, he could be line to face Bayonne in France on the 21st of January.

“Whether Bayonne is a little early, that’s how close Josh is, he’s in proper end stage. He’s worked extremely hard, he’s right on the Bayonne schedule, so it’s going to be very exciting.”