Nowell to start for Exeter in Champions Cup final

LONDON (Reuters) - England wing Jack Nowell has been passed fit to start for Exeter Chiefs in Saturday’s European Champions Cup final against French side Racing 92.

FILE PHOTO: Rugby Union - Premiership - Exeter Chiefs v Gloucester Rugby - Sandy Park, Exeter, Britain - September 9, 2020 Exeter's Jack Nowell is tackled by Gloucester's Henry Trinder Action Images/Paul Childs/File Photo

Nowell missed last week’s Premiership semi-final win over Bath with a foot injury but was passed fit on Friday and will start on the right wing. Tom O’Flaherty is on the left, with Olly Woodburn, who played against Bath, missing out as he is dropped from the matchday 23.

Ian Whitten starts at inside centre, with Ollie Devoto moving to the bench.

Exeter are in the final for the first time and are seeking a double as they play Wasps in next week’s Premiership final.

“If it looks like the guys are cool, calm and collected, it’s because we feel we are getting our preparation right,” Exeter coach Rob Baxter said this week.

“We are not running around with big smiles on our faces being silly because we have got to the European Cup final for the first time, we are locking down into what it will take to win it.

“How do we get tactically and technically prepared? How do we get physically right? And then in the last few days, it’s about how we recharge those emotional batteries to be ready to go on Saturday.”

Racing, seeking their first European title after two final defeats, have also been able to name their full-strength side after nine positive COVID tests in their camp last week forced the players to train in small groups.

The squad trained on the island of Corsica this week and have all now returned negative tests.

“Last weekend it was a little bit disrupted and this week it’s not been perfect,” said flyhalf Finn Russell.

“It’s not been ideal but this year there are going to be a lot of weeks like this and it’s how you are able to adapt to these situations.”

Exeter Chiefs:

15. Stuart Hogg, 14. Jack Nowell, 13. Henry Slade, 12. Ian Whitten, 11. Tom O’Flaherty, 10. Joe Simmonds (c), 9. Jack Maunder, 1. Alec Hepburn, 2. Luke Cowan-Dickie, 3. Harry Williams, 4. Jonny Gray, 5. Jonny Hill, 6. Dave Ewers, 7. Jacques Vermeulen, 8. Sam Simmonds.

Replacements: 16. Jack Yeandle, 17. Ben Moon, 18. Tom Francis, 19. Sam Skinner, 20. Jannes Kirsten, 21. Sam Hidalgo-Clyne, 22. Gareth Steenson, 23. Ollie Devoto.

Racing 92

15. Simon Zebo, 14. Louis Dupichot, 13. Virimi Vakatawa, 12. Henry Chavancy (c), 11. Juan Imhoff, 10. Finn Russell, 9. Teddy Iribaren, 1. Eddy Ben Arous, 2. Camille Chat, 3. Georges Henri Colombe, 4. Bernard Le Roux, 5. Dominic Bird, 6. Wenceslas Lauret, 7. Fabien Sanconnie, 8. Antonie Claassen.

Replacements: 16. Teddy Baubigny, 17. Hassane Kolingar, 18. Ali Oz, 19. Donnacha Ryan, 20. Boris Palu, 21. Maxime Machenaud, 22. Olivier Klemenczak, 23. Kurtley Beale,

Referee: Nigel Owens (Wales). Kick off 1545 GMT at Ashton Gate, Bristol.

Reporting by Mitch Phillips, editing by Toby Davis