Midfield maestro eyeing June comeback
EXCLUSIVE: When Michele Campagnaro underwent anterior cruciate ligament reconstruction of the left knee in September last year they suggested he could be sidelined for nine months.
However, the Italian midfield maestro could be back playing again in just a few weeks.
Speaking to rugby365, after attending one of Aviva's Grassroots Surprises campaigns, admitted he is unlikely to feature in this year's Six Nations campaign.
Campagnaro has another three weeks before possibly returning to the playing field.
"Hopefully I will get a chance [to play for Italy] in June again," the 24-year-old said.
He is targeting the Anglo-Welsh Cup semifinal - when Exeter Chiefs host Newcastle Falcons at Sandy Park on March 11 - as his comeback game.
After that, it is the Premiership, which resumes on March 23, after the Six Nations break.
"Hopefully I can get some game time [in the Premiership."
It was his second major surgery, after he damaged his ACL when he played for Italy in the Under-20 World Cup in South Africa in 2012.
"Sometimes it is hard to come back from surgery," he told rugby365, adding: "When I underwent surgery the first time I was much younger and full of energy.
"I was sidelined for six months when I damaged the right knee [in 2012].
"I am sure I should be good to go after six months off."
He admitted it will "take a while" to get his confidence back, especially at international level.
"Hopefully I get it back quickly and can play good rugby again, as I am still young."
He said the 2017 Premiership champions, Exeter, are confident they will retain their title.
"We have high expectations," Campagnaro said, adding: "We know we always have a target on our backs as defending champions.
"Our goal remains to finish top of the standings and have a home Final."
By Jan de Koning
* Exeter Chiefs' Italian star Michele Campagnaro, along with Chiefs teammates Dave Dennis and Jack Yeandle visited amateur club Plymstock Albion Oaks as part of Aviva's Grassroots Surprises campaign to champion the inclusive and diverse nature of rugby. The club also won £2,000 of Gilbert kit and equipment courtesy of Aviva, title sponsor of Aviva Premiership Rugby.