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Baxter believes Lancaster’s style suits Chiefs players

By Exeter Express and Echo  |  Posted: May 28, 2014

Tom Johnson is included in his second England tour

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Head coach Rob Baxter believes Exeter Chiefs’ style of play gives players selected for England an immediate advantage.

Baxter – who joined England’s coaching staff during last year’s tour of South America – saw hooker Luke Cowan-Dickie and flanker Tom Johnson named in England’s touring party of New Zealand on Monday.

Fellow Chiefs Sam Hill, Dave Ewers and Henry Slade are in the England squad to face the Barbarians at Twickenham on Sunday, and could still be among a second group being picked on Monday to join the tour.

Baxter spoke of his delight at seeing the Chiefs duo being picked by the Red Rose, but also shed light on the similarities between the Exeter and England set-ups.

“That is fantastic for us from a club perspective. It shows that players at Exeter can fulfil genuine ambitions of playing for England,” he said.

“It is almost enhancing their opportunities for England now because the style of rugby we play is very much how England are looking to play.

“Some of our lads are looking very comfortable when they drop into those kind of sessions and, when they train with England, they are showing the right attitude in terms of how they behave and conduct themselves.

“To think that Jack Nowell would be there too if he was not injured, and the players we have involved with the Saxons, you are talking five or six players involved in England squads.”

England start their four-match tour of New Zealand with a match against the world champions on Saturday, June 7 at Eden Park in Auckland.

The two sides meet again a week later at Dunedin’s Forsyth Barr Stadium, before Super XV side Crusaders host England on Tuesday, June 17.

The final test against the All Blacks takes place on Saturday, June 21 at the Waikato Stadium in Hamilton.

The tour gives 20-year-old Cowan-Dickie the chance to win his maiden senior cap, while Johnson, 31, is in line to add to the seven already to his name.

Speaking of Cowan-Dickie, Baxter claims the Cornwall-born youngster’s adaptability has been key to his rise through the ranks.

“I think one of Luke’s biggest attributes is how well he has dealt with every step up so far,” said the Chiefs head coach.

“He has dealt with them in the correct way. He knows that, as you step up, you have to get on with your job and he has done that with the England under-20s, on loan at Plymouth, our A–League games or LV games, or Heineken Cup and Premiership games.

“He has dealt with each move very well basically just by getting on with things, and that is one of the best attributes a player can have.

“Whether he has started or come off the bench, no matter the standard of game, he has got on with his job and that allows him to develop because he is fully involved.

“That should happen in New Zealand. Whether he is involved in training or game time or scrum time, whatever he does, he will make the most of it and I think he will do that really well.”

As for Johnson, this will be his second tour with England, having travelled to South Africa in 2012.

And Baxter believes the flanker is now part of the furniture in Stuart Lancaster’s England squad.

Baxter said. “I think Stuart is very comfortable with him in the squad and I am very pleased for Tom – he has shown over an extended period that he has fought his way into that England squad and stayed there.

“I think Tom has great qualities, some of which are the way he behaves on the training field and around the squad. That is very important.

“He is a good player. Everyone is very aware of the attributes he brings, like the extra bit of pace that most players have not got.

“I really hope he can get a good bit of game time over in New Zealand so he can show what he can do on the international stage.”

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