Sam Simmonds revealed he has had assurances from Warren Gatland that his England snub will not preclude him from Lions selection as he waits nervously for a call.
The Exeter No 8’s seventh and last England cap came in 2018 but he could not be in better form for his club, as the reigning European Player of the Year and leading the Premiership scoring charts with 14 tries in 16 games.
On the long-list of contenders Simmonds will find out on Thursday lunchtime whether he is on the tour to South Africa – in his own mind he thinks he has done enough to be considered.
Sam Simmonds believes lack of international rugby won’t count against him for Lions selection
Exeter forward revealed he spoke to Warren Gatland a few months ago and was reassured
The 26-year-old said he spoke to Gatland a few months back about his situation.
‘Earlier in the year we had a brief chat because I wasn’t playing in the Six Nations,’ said Simmonds.
‘Warren told me not to worry about that, to keep playing well for my club.
‘He said if you keep doing what you’re doing, then we’ll see what happens. It was quite nice to have that reassurance. If nothing comes of it, at least I know I’ve performed well.
‘Even though I haven’t been playing international rugby I know I’m getting the same chances as the other boys are.’
Simmonds’ last cap for England came in 2018 but he has been in sensational form for his club
Simmonds – who will gather for the official squad announcement with a few Chiefs hopefuls after breakfast at a Devon farm-shop on his day off – has been left frustrated by his England absence but feels he has a lot to offer the Lions.
‘I might not have the amount of carries as some of the bigger players but I feel every time I touch the ball it is an effective carry,’ he added.
‘It is not just bulldozing my way through, it is about finding other ways of beating defenders and gaining metres. I think both sides of the ball I can have an impact whether off the bench or starting.
‘South Africans are very big lads, but we do play a lot of them. A lot of them play for Sale. It is always going to be a challenge for someone a little bit smaller like me. It is finding other ways to do it rather than just bashing through the wall.
‘Hopefully if I can get my chance then I can do it on the biggest stage. It would be amazing.’
The Lions squad to play reigning world champions South Africa is announced on Thursday