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Rob Baxter: 'Sam Simmonds driven by desire to win games'

:Headline: Rob Baxter: 'Sam Simmonds driven by desire to win games':
Sam Simmonds has amassed 14 tries in the Gallagher Premiership this season.
Sports Mole

Sam Simmonds' stellar season is fuelled by ability rather than anger over being ignored by England, according to his Exeter boss Rob Baxter.

Simmonds has amassed 14 tries in the Gallagher Premiership this season, six more than his nearest rival, and is reigning European player of the year, yet he is consistently overlooked by Eddie Jones.

While Jones is unpersuaded, the number eight's rampaging form has propelled him into contention for a place on the British and Irish Lions tour to South Africa this summer.

And providing the stage to convince Warren Gatland that he is of Lions calibre is Exeter's Heineken Champions Cup quarter-final against Leinster at Sandy Park on Saturday.

"Sometimes we look for all of these complex drivers but Sam is having a good season because he's a very good player and it's as simple as that," Baxter said.

"If he is angry and has got a point to prove to England then that's great and there is nothing wrong with that being a driver.

"But his driver might also be that he wants to have a great season and win some games of rugby.

Eddie Jones gave Sam Simmonds his England debut but has not capped him since 2018 (Adam Davy/PA)

"He hears everyone keep saying he should be in the England team and he should be going on the Lions tour and all of these things.

"They are all motivators but ultimately you can only play well if you are a great player.

"So the foundation of it all is that he's a good player and whatever his motivations are, then great."

Exeter remain on course to defend last season's double and Baxter insists that if they are successful, it will because solo targets have been met.

Rob Baxter is preparing Exeter for their European quarter-final against Leinster on Saturday (Simon Galloway/PA)

"If you want to build success, it's about what the individuals want to achieve," Baxter said.

"We focused on who is going to have their best season, hit personal bests, set records.

"If you look at clubs with ongoing success it's because players have ongoing better seasons, or a rookie comes out of nowhere to have a season-best performance.

"All clubs are driven by someone setting higher standards. That leads and galvanises the team.

"An example standing out to me already is that you look at where Sam Simmonds is on try-scoring – there's potential for him to set the record as the highest scorer in the Premiership.

"Those kinds of things are what you want to see. Trophies, getting to quarter or semi-finals are all a bit pie in the sky unless individuals decide to have their best seasons."

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3Leicester CityLeicester31175955371856
4West Ham UnitedWest Ham31167851391255
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6Liverpool31157953371652
7Tottenham HotspurSpurs311471052351749
8Everton29145104138347
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10Leeds UnitedLeeds31143144949045
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Premier League Table
TeamPWDLFAGDPTS
1Manchester CityMan City32235467234474
2Manchester UnitedMan Utd31189461342763
3Leicester CityLeicester31175955371856
4West Ham UnitedWest Ham31167851391255
5Chelsea31159750311954
6Liverpool31157953371652
7Tottenham HotspurSpurs311471052351749
8Everton29145104138347
9Arsenal31136124335845
10Leeds UnitedLeeds31143144949045
11Aston Villa301351243331044
12Wolverhampton WanderersWolves31108133141-1038
13Crystal Palace31108133352-1938
14Southampton30106143953-1436
15Burnley3189142542-1733
16Brighton & Hove AlbionBrighton30711123338-532
17Newcastle UnitedNewcastle3188153251-1932
18Fulham32511162442-1826
19West Bromwich AlbionWest Brom3049172559-3421
20Sheffield UnitedSheff Utd3142251755-3814
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