Another Six Nations campaign ends this weekend without any involvement from the captain of Europe’s champion club.
Far from sulk about it Exeter star Joe Simmonds has chosen to put a smile on kids far less fortunate than himself.
Clubmate Jack Maunder has co-written a book with children’s author Sarah Griffiths aimed at motivating kids, families and carers to be resilient.
And Chiefs No.10 Simmonds joined his half-back partner in reading Bounce Back Jack at an evening story time session for families from Children’s Hospice South West.
The session was organised as part of Gallagher’s UK-wide Tackling Tomorrow Together initiative and featured a heart-warming exchange between Simmonds and a young lad.
Hearing the boy say he was struggling with football, Simmonds told him he went through a similar experience of not feeling he was good enough when he played for the Torquay United football academy – and urged him not to give up.
“It’s really nice to give back a little bit,” said the fly-half. “To give these young boys and girls some positivity at this time. Positive information at the moment is key.
“Had I had the opportunity to talk to my role models when I was growing up that would have been massive for me. You sometimes don’t realise how you are a role model to other people.”
Maunder said the Tackling Tomorrow Together initiative had provided him and his team mates with a platform to talk about resilience with some of the most resilient families in the country.
“Reading my book to those at Children’s Hospice South West was a humbling experience,” he said.
“It was incredibly moving to hear that, after the session, parents heard their children say that they weren’t going to give up, they are going to keep trying – embracing the power of hope.”
Exeter director of rugby Rob Baxter says he is proud of his players for throwing themselves so wholeheartedly into community work.
“You talk about people being more than just rugby players and Jack is certainly one of those guys,” he said.
“Jack is an intelligent young man who understands there’s more going on in the world than just rugby. And he understands that for himself he needs more going on in his life than just rugby.
“Having other things in his life is very good for him. And for us it’s fantastic that those other things bring such positives for the community.
“Jack, Joe, in fact all the guys at Chiefs, they are just being their normal selves. Every year they spend their own money on buying presents to take to children’s wards.”
Visit ajg.com/uk/tackling-tomorrow-together for more information on the ‘Tackling Tomorrow Together’ initiative.