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Luke Cowan-Dickie has impressed former England star Lewis Moody

By Western Morning News  |  Posted: February 28, 2014

By Bill Sobey and Paddy von Behr

Luke Cowan-Dickie has impressed former England star Lewis Moody

Exeter Chiefs hooker Luke Cowan-Dickie

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Cornish hooker Luke Cowan-Dickie will make his first Premiership start for Exeter Chiefs against London Irish on Saturday.

Cowan-Dickie, who comes into the front row for Jack Yeandle, is one of five changes to the Chiefs side that lost at Saracens last weekend.

Prop Hoani Tui is able to take a place alongside him after leaving the pitch through injury last week.

Henry Slade gets the nod at fly-half over Gareth Steenson and Phil Dollman reverts back into the midfield alongside Ian Whitten. There are recalls for both Luke Arscott and Tom James.

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Cowan-Dickie has been turning heads for a while with his sterling performances through the England age-groups, including the Under-20s’ Junior World Championship success last summer.

The 20-year-old converted from a loosehead prop last season and this campaign has started to make a real impact in the Chiefs first XV.

Injury blighted his start to the season but he has made two Premiership and two Heineken Cup appearances in recent weeks.

Add that to his barnstorming LV= Cup displays that included a two-try outing in a win over the Ospreys and it is easy to see why Cowan-Dickie has been nominated for the LV= Breakthrough Player of the Year.

World Cup winner Lewis Moody is confident the best is yet to come from Cowan-Dickie.

“The one thing I like about him is he is a tenacious little character,” said Moody.

“You talk about attitude, in terms of talent coming through. When you look at talent at the backs, you look at other nominees like Zach [Kibirige] and Ben [Ransom] and Ollie [Devoto], these guys get more time with the ball in their hands so the talent is clear to see.

“When you’re a forward, certainly a hooker in that testing environment when your energy is being sapped from you in every involvement you have in the game – the scrum, the line out, the maul.

“So it’s even harder to impress so for me to have guys like this in this group of nominees is very important.

“At such a young age, 20, he shows a real toughness of character and that’s what is expected when you’re in the front row, which is not always prevalent. He’s thought of very highly because he’s a tenacious character.”

Cowan-Dickie is one of ten 2014 LV= Breakthrough Player Award nominees with the winner to be announced before the LV= Cup final at Sandy Park on March 16. And Moody is confident that the front-rower is at just the right place under Rob Baxter’s tutelage to continue his rapid development.

He added: “The attitude in his performances, the tenacity he brings to the game. He is still a young man but he plays well beyond his years.”

Exeter Chiefs: Arscott; Jess, Whitten, Dollman, James; Slade, Lewis; Moon, L Cowan-Dickie, Tui; Mumm (capt), Welch; Johnson, White, Ewers. Replacements: Bateman, Rimmer, Brown, Armand, Horstmann, Thomas, Steenson, Vainikolo.

The LV=Cup, watch the next generation break through. For more information on the LV= Breakthrough Player Award and voting, visit http://www.lv.com/about-us/sponsorship/rugby/breakthrough-player

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