WALES prop Tomas Francis says it would be hard to turn down the club that gave him a shot when reluctantly having the "tough decision" of having to leave Exeter to continue his Test career.

The 28-year-old tighthead has a season left on his contract with the Chiefs, who he has been with since joining from London Scottish in 2014.

His exploits in Devon earned a shock call-up to the Wales squad the following year, with the Yorkshireman qualifying thanks to a grandmother from Abercrave.

He made his debut against Ireland in a World Cup warm-up, earned selection for England 2015 and became an influential figure for Warren Gatland.

Francis has totted up 48 caps but has not played since suffering a shoulder injury in the World Cup semi-final loss to South Africa in October.

His Test tally means that the front rower faces a challenge to stay in the mix for new Wales boss Wayne Pivac.

He has to reach 60 caps by the time he signs his next contract to be eligible for the national team if he continues playing for Exeter, a tough task even if the coronavirus pandemic is likely to lead to a hectic international calendar to raise funds.

Western Telegraph:

"Right now my focus is getting back to full fitness and playing for Exeter," said Francis, who has developed a more all-round game to go with his set-piece prowess.

"If I don't play for Exeter, then I don't get picked for Wales, so it won't matter. As I said, when rugby resumes my first aim will be to try and get back in the Exeter team and see where it goes from there.

"At the moment, I don't have a decision to make on any of that. If I do, then it's a tough decision I don't want to make.

"Rob Baxter gave me a shot when I was in the Championship, so it would be tough to see why I have to leave a club that gave me a chance.

"I understand the rules and I see both sides of it, but right now there is nothing I can do about it."

Western Telegraph:

After undergoing surgery following the blow in the loss to the Springboks, Francis has been rehabilitating hard to get back onto the field.

"Lockdown has come as a positive for me in terms of my injury," he said. "I'm still doing my rehab, which at Exeter is tougher than playing, but I'm doing it at my own pace.

"The good thing is I'm getting closer and closer all the time, but I'm not missing any rugby!

"I've turned my garage into a gym, Chris Whitehead one of the old Chiefs' players has a company called A-Unit, and he's sorted a few the boys out with squat racks, benches and weights. The club have also lent us kit as well, so I've just cracked on really."

Francis has been staying in touch with his Chiefs conditioning coaches and also checking in with the Welsh Rugby Union medical team.

"We do a lot of FaceTime calling and they watch from afar," explained Francis. "They advise on things and make tweaks here and there if you need them.

"It's great, though, they are only a phone call away and I've been speaking occasionally with the Welsh medical team as well."

"I live with my girlfriend and when I'm not training, we tend to go and walk our two dachshunds," he continued. "I've also got into a bit of home cooking and a few barbecues.

"In reality, though, a lot hasn't really changed other than being able to go to the club or to go out and see people."