IT HAS been quite a summer for Jack Nowell!
He has become a dad for the first time after his partner Zoe gave birth to a daughter, Nori. He has also had surgery on damaged ankle ligaments that he suffered in the New Year’s Eve victory over Leicester Tigers at Sandy Park but battled his way through until the end of the season before undergoing an operation.
However, that injury meant he missed going on England’s summer tour to South Africa, and it has enabled him to take a break and spend some time with his family.
Despite only being 25, Truro-born Nowell has had some fantastic moments in his life, particularly on the rugby front, scoring plenty of tries for England and playing for the British and Irish Lions, but they were no competition to becoming a father.
“It is 100 per cent the top moment,” he exclaimed. “I have not actually had the chance to have this amount of time off since I was 17 or 18, so I have really made the most of it, and having time away from the club, and not actually doing any training has left me feeling very, very good for it.
“I was at the birth of my daughter and I am absolutely buzzing.
“I am really enjoying it and it is one of the biggest things that can happen to you in your life, and to come home from training each day and get the chance to see her is awesome and pretty special, and it gives you a different perspective on life.
“I am a wizard at the nappy changing now and I can almost do it with my eyes closed! I try and leave that to Zoe though!”
Nowell is very pleased with how his recovery from surgery is coming along and he is targeting to be back in time for the start of the new Premiership season, and the opening game at home to Leicester Tigers on Saturday, September 1.
“It is going very well,” he told me. “My operation actually got put back a week because my daughter was born the day I was due to have surgery, so I had it the week after instead.
“We are ticking along nicely, and I have got the physios looking after me.
“For the first couple of weeks it was a bit tough, I was in a cast and I wasn’t actually allowed to do anything, but it kind of really gave me that chance to sit down and relax and take my mind off everything.
“I have now had a couple of weeks of training and I am back into it, and I am really looking forward to getting the protective boot off for a start because it is breaking me, and then getting back fit again and giving it a good go.
“I am doing everything I can to try and be available for that first game of the season.
“The physios say it is possible as well, so as long as I work hard, and I work hard with them, I can’t see why not.”
Exeter have been given a tough start to the new season, with matches against two of last season’s top five, with Leicester at home followed by Wasps away at the Ricoh Arena seven days later, but Nowell commented: “You are never going to have an easy start in the Premiership.
“I think we saw how tight it was last year and how hard it is now.
“It is always good to have one of the top teams come down to Sandy Park, and it will be a good indicator of where we are as a squad as well.
“The first game is always exciting and we need to do better than we did in the opener last year, let’s put it that way!”