Sunday 17 February 2019

'We've got nothing to lose' - Jack Nowell says Exeter will play without fear in Thomond showdown

Exeter Chiefs Jack Nowell. David Davies/PA Wire.
Exeter Chiefs Jack Nowell. David Davies/PA Wire.

Andrew Baldock

Jack Nowell believes that Exeter must adopt a "nothing to lose mentality" when they target an historic Heineken Champions Cup victory over Munster.

Exeter know that success in Limerick next Saturday - and denying Munster a losing bonus point - would see the Chiefs finish top of Pool Two.

It would also make them the first team in European Cup history to secure a quarter-final place after failing to win any of their first three group games.

And England wing Nowell, who is fit and firing again after eight weeks out because of a hamstring injury, is relishing the Thomond Park test.

"We've got nothing to lose now," said Nowell, who scored a scintillating solo try from full-back in Exeter's 34-12 defeat of French champions Castres.

"If we go out and are shy to play and afraid of what might happen, we will probably lose.

"Whereas if we go out with a nothing to lose mentality like we did (against Castres) and play the way that we can play, we will hopefully come away with it.

"Munster are obviously going to try and stop that. If we hesitate, they are going to win. We know that."

The odds are stacked against Exeter - Munster have only lost three European games at Thomond Park in 24 years - while they warmed up for the group decider by demolishing Gloucester 41-15, with fly-half Joey Carbery scoring 26 points.

Nowell added: "It is going to be one of the biggest games of the year. This is make or break for us.

"Munster are playing very well at the moment. We know it's going to be a big test for us, but the thing is we want to enjoy it."

Nowell's performance against Castres was also welcome news for England head coach Eddie Jones, arriving just three weeks before an opening Guinness Six Nations appointment with Ireland in Dublin.

The 25-year-old had not played since England's victory over Japan on November 17, and he said: "The injury hit me pretty hard.

"I had spent a long time in the off-season to get myself ready for the whole season, so I was gutted to get injured.

"Missing the last game in the autumn for England (against Australia) was massive, but to come back here (Exeter) and realise I was going to miss so many big games hit me hard, too.

"I have been desperate to get back playing for the last six or seven weeks, head-butting with the physios to let me play. So, I am over the moon about the Castres game, about how well the boys played and how it went for me personally.

"I have just been desperate to get back. The physios have been brilliant, working me really hard, and they got me through it."

Nowell looks set to feature again at full-back against Munster, such was his dazzling contribution as Exeter saw off Castres in six-try fashion.

"I think it's always a positive when you can play different positions," he said.

"But I still class myself as a winger who can play in these different positions, rather than somebody who can just play in any position."

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