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Sam Simmonds
Discussion started by Lowerwatha (IP Logged), 08 December, 2019 10:49
08 December, 2019 10:49
Interesting article on Sam in the Telegraph on how he coped with his long lay off with his ACL injury:

Simmonds discovers extra gear for Exeter
Chiefs back-row lost months to serious injury but added game and life skills, writes Ben Coles

As Sam Simmonds unfortunately discovered for himself earlier this year after rupturing his anterior cruciate ligament, beyond the official recovery time – roughly between six to nine months – there are the extra weeks, maybe months, that it takes truly to feel comfortable out on the field again.
Simmonds initially returned for three matches off the bench for Exeter at the end of last season. Physically he was fully conditioned to get back out there, but mentally? That part has taken a little longer.
Now the 25-year-old England No 8 looks back to his athletic, devastating best with ball in hand ahead of facing Sale today in the Champions Cup. Which is good news for Exeter and possibly also England as the Six Nations begins to creep into view.
“At that early stage, I still did not really trust my body,” Simmonds admits to The Sunday Telegraph, sat on the (thankfully) heated seats by the players’ tunnel at Sandy Park. “It was not until the start of pre-season and when I started matches that I felt … my knee is not going to be the same, but it feels as though I can do what I was doing before.
“Those three games off the bench last season, in my head I was probably still thinking, ‘Am I OK?’ People say it is a six- to nine-month injury, but if you speak to people who have done an ACL in the past, it takes a lot longer to get past how it feels in your head.

Simmonds: ‘Those three games off the bench last season, in my head I was probably still thinking, “Am I OK?”’

“Dave Ewers [Simmonds’ Exeter team-mate] told me it took him 10 games to actually feel like he was back in the groove of things, and it has been the same for me. I am around that 10-game mark now and I feel a lot better, slotting straight back into how we play.”
He was always an outside bet to make the Rugby World Cup once that injury occurred, to the point where being involved was not even a target in his recovery, despite Simmonds having won seven caps, scoring two tries, during the 2017-18 season.
That pragmatic acceptance of his situation was certainly tested, though, as England progressed deeper into the World Cup. “As the tournament went on and you saw how well England played, I did think in the back of my head, ‘What if?’ What an experience and a stage to be involved in.”
When Simmonds was filling in for Billy Vunipola during the 2018 Six Nations there were endless questions about his weight. The England No 8 shirt certainly dropped a few sizes. He is currently around 107kg (16st 12lb) on match days, a notable increase from his breakthrough season.
“If I was 110kg I might feel a bit lethargic and not have my X-factor, my pace and power in my carries. It would take away what I bring to the game,” he says.
Other areas of his game aside from his carrying received extra attention back on the training field, working with forwards coach Rob Hunter and defence coach Julian Salvi on his breakdown technique.
“[Salvi] brings a lot of new ideas of not just how you can get over the ball, but affect the breakdown to help your team’s defence and to keep driving the attack back, as opposed to just being an out-an-out seven and scavenger,” Simmonds says.
However, the main benefit seems to have come off the field. A venture with six other players from the Chiefs last season: Sam Skinner, James Freeman, Phil Dollman, Jonny Hill, Toby Salmon and Pete Laverick; saw the group of injured players work with local business Sandford Orchards to create a new cider, aptly named “Rib Tickler”.
The drop has gone down well in Devon, particularly at The Stand Off, the bar in town belonging to Exeter fly-half Gareth Steenson.
More importantly, all profits have gone to two charities, Wooden Spoon and the Exeter Chiefs Foundation.
“It was nice to come together and not just be a rugby player, or a rehabber, at the time,” Simmonds says. “Apart from rugby, if I did not get a contract here or anywhere in rugby … at 18 I did not know what I wanted to do. Maybe I would have gone to university, but I am not sure what I would have done.

“I am obviously grateful that I have this opportunity to play rugby, but I know it does not last forever. Boys have struggled in the past with sudden retirement and coming to the end of their career and not knowing what they want to do.
“The Rugby Players’ Association are great with that, giving us options. To find something on the business side was eye-opening. Hopefully in the future that can be something I can go into.”
In the present Exeter have started brilliantly in Europe, with bonus-point wins over La Rochelle and Glasgow Warriors, and are determined to prove they can go deep in the Champions Cup.
“We are good enough to beat any team, but it is how you turn up and mentally prepare for those games,” Simmonds says.
“Maybe in the past we have not done that in Europe. Now we have switched that a little bit and when it comes to these big European games we are on the money physically and mentally.”
Facing Sale at the AJ Bell Stadium today will certainly test that theory.
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John Tee
John Tee
08 December, 2019 16:07
i think England need a more mobile 8 at I'd pick him as a counter to BV.
I think we look better balanced at back row for England when BV isn't playing because if you play him you tend to go crash which actually makes England slower and more predictable imv.
Mark Wilson and Simmonds add more dimension...add in Curry types, then you have a lot of pace there.

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