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Exeter will leave ‘gifted’ Immanuel Feyi-Waboso to decide own international path

The Cardiff-born wing could play for either England or Wales.

Andrew Baldock
Sunday 31 December 2023 15:56 GMT
Immanuel Feyi-Wasobo has impressed for Exeter this season (Steven Paston/PA)
Immanuel Feyi-Wasobo has impressed for Exeter this season (Steven Paston/PA) (PA Wire)

Exeter rugby director Rob Baxter says there will be no pressure from the Chiefs about where Immanuel Feyi-Waboso’s potential international career should lie.

The uncapped 21-year-old, who is qualified to represent Wales and England at Test level, could conceivably feature during this season’s Guinness Six Nations Championship.

Wales boss Warren Gatland and his England counterpart Steve Borthwick will undoubtedly have noted Feyi-Waboso’s blistering form, showcased by tries in recent Gallagher Premiership games against Newcastle and Bristol.

Borthwick watched from the Ashton Gate stands as the Exeter wing repeatedly threatened Bristol’s defence and further enhanced a box-office reputation.

Gatland, meanwhile, will announce his Six Nations squad in just over a fortnight’s time, with Cardiff-born Feyi-Waboso thought to be firmly on the New Zealander’s radar.

He has agreed a new long-term Exeter deal, while he has also embarked on medical studies at the city’s university.

“He knows there is no pressure from us,” Baxter said.

“Obviously, I am English and I support England. If he picks England, great.

“But we never put any pressure on (Wales forwards) Dafydd Jenkins or Christ Tshiunza. They came to us without being capped, and there has never been a pressure element from us about where their career should lie.

“There won’t be any pressure from us. Those will be decisions Manny will make for himself.”

Baxter is already a member of the Feyi-Waboso fan club, seeing him flourish following his arrival from Wasps after the Coventry-based club went into administration.

“All he has got to do is play rugby and get experience, and the world is his oyster then,” Baxter added.

“His rugby career will be what he chooses it to be. The opportunities are going to be there for him if he works hard at his game.

“The reality is he will need to stay relatively injury-free for periods, he will need to get a decent amount of game-time for periods, he will need to balance his studying with his rugby programme as he goes along and not get burnt out by one or the other, so there is a long way to go.

“We’ve had with him us for a year or so now, so he is not a complete novice, but in Premiership terms he is.

When it comes all together he is just going to grow and become a very, very good player

Rob Baxter

“The good thing about him is he is keen to get better. He doesn’t look like a guy who suffers a lot with nerves and pressure.

“He is relatively chilled-out, and when it comes all together he is just going to grow and become a very, very good player.

“He has got great pace, strength and balance. He half-missed a tackle in training and started to do a back-roll, and as he rolled over he did a hand-spring off the floor and landed on his feet.

“You look at it and go ‘how have you just done that?’ But he doesn’t even know how he has done it, he is just a very gifted athlete in a lot of ways.”

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