Exeter boss Rob Baxter has rejected reports that England hooker Luke Cowan-Dickie’s move to French champions Montpellier is under threat.
Cowan-Dickie has been sidelined with an ankle injury since early January, while he is also said to be suffering from some nerve problems in his neck.
It has been suggested that 29-year-old Cowan-Dickie missed a recent medical in France, angering the Montpellier bosses, who have also signed his Exeter and England colleague Sam Simmonds for next season.
“I had discussions with Luke and he told me he didn’t fail his meds. It’s something that has been massively out of proportion,” Exeter director of rugby Baxter said.
“I think he’s coming back again just to finish a couple of pieces that the Frenchman would like to investigate in terms of injuries.
“He hasn’t failed a doctor and failed to show up for a doctor.
“I’m not saying it’s totally pie in the sky because everything has some truth to it. But until he showed up and they rolled up the contract and threw it away, that’s not the case.
“If the element (of truth) is a drink in a bar at some point, then I’d probably say yes. Other than that, I think there was probably quite a bit of journalistic license in some of the things that happened.
“I think they (Montpellier) want some more information on the nerve damage caused by the last operation.
“All I know is that Luke said there was a lot of hype around it all. At this point, Luke is told that everything is fine. Reports that it’s all over and his contract is up couldn’t be further from the truth.
Cowan-Dickie is among several Exeter players to leave the club this summer, although the Chiefs would step in if the Montpellier deal falls through.
“If all fails, I expect us to look at the possibilities of, at the very least, trying to care for him during his injury rehabilitation and build from there. That would be my expectation,” Baxter added.
“He was a very important player for us, he played some important games for us. We would try to do something to take care of him, of course we would.
“The nerve problem is a matter of time. Historically, they can take a long time or you can recover quickly. It’s kind of how long is a piece of string?
“I know England is investigating whether there is anything they can do to speed up the process, as we are, but it’s not a problem that has a definitive answer.”
Chiefs’ England winger Jack Nowell, meanwhile, will be involved in Sunday’s Heineken Champions Cup semi-final against La Rochelle in Bordeaux after recovering from a knee problem.
It will also be Nowell’s first appearance since he was charged with conduct prejudicial to the interests of the Rugby Football Union and the match after his team-mate Olly Woodburn picked up a second yellow card in Gallagher Premiership’s 62-19 defeat to the Leicester.
Woodburn had dived into Chris Ashton on the floor and upon seeing referee Karl Dickson’s decision, Nowell said in a since-deleted tweet: “I’m really shocked, like shocked. What the hell is going on? It’s one of the worst decisions he’s ever seen. NEVER.”
The England winger accepted the charge in a disciplinary hearing and were fined £10,000.
Baxter said, “He’s a little disappointed and frustrated with what went on around his tweet. It was one of those scenarios where he used bad language to express frustration with the game.
“Anyone who knows Jack and knows his relationship with referees will know that there was nothing in there aimed personally at the referee.
“It can end up looking like this, he’s aware of it, he’s apologized for what he did and he just needs to get on with things now.
“It’s a lesson for other players that sometimes you can react in the heat of the moment. You just have to be careful what you say.