Slade eyes training squad call-up


Published: Tuesday 5th May 2015 by The News Editor

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Henry Slade believes helping Exeter Chiefs to a top-four Aviva Premiership finish is his best route to a World Cup training squad call.

Slade has tipped a nucleus of Exeter stars to push all the way for inclusion in England’s wider World Cup training squad should the Chiefs reach the Premiership play-offs.

The fast-improving fly-half is expected to edge his way into England’s 41-man squad, to be named in two weeks, but insists he still faces a battle to impress head coach Stuart Lancaster.

Exeter could yet sneak into the play-offs with victory over Sale Sharks in this weekend’s final round of regular-season action.

Slade believes back-row forwards Thomas Waldrom and Dave Ewers, as well as centre Sam Hill, will all be on Lancaster’s World Cup radar should Exeter reach the Premiership play-offs for the first time.

“It was always an aim to try to get into that wider training squad – but it’s certainly not something you target from a long way away,” Slade told Press Association Sport.

“This is the first year I’ve had starting regularly and getting this much game time.

“Last season was my first year of a full Premiership season but a lot of that was off the bench.

“This year game time has allowed me to push on a bit and we’ve had a good season as well as a team, back in and around the top four now.

“So that’s been a big step forward for everyone, and we’ve got a few boys really putting their hands up.

“It’s exciting for the club; we’ve constantly been progressing the last few years.

“It’s nice to hear things like Andy Farrell (assistant coach) saying the door is still open for anyone who performs well to make the pre-World Cup camps.

“There are still avenues if you’re working hard and playing well, so I’ve just got to keep my head down and keep working and pushing as hard as I can.”

Slade has broken new club ground by featuring at 13 with Exeter this term, boss Rob Baxter broadening the natural playmaker’s horizons.

The 22-year-old will battle for inclusion at fly-half on the England front however, admitting the competition is increasingly fierce for a Test spot.

“There are loads of guys who could all excel in there at 10,” said Slade, speaking at a Land Rover event to surprise Exeter fans who had won a competition to become mascots at Rugby World Cup 2015.

“George Ford has been going well at the minute, obviously there’s Owen Farrell coming back, Danny Cipriani and Stephen Myler who are both strong, and Freddie Burns getting more game time at Leicester again too.

“So at centre there’s a wealth of talent too.

“It’s great to see really and that’s the way I think it ought to be.

“It would be a massive opportunity to make that training squad but it’s also a huge challenge.

“I’ve been lucky enough to train with England at different points and that experience in itself has been phenomenal.

“But to make that training squad, especially at a home tournament, that would be incredible.

“It’s a hugely exciting time, but at the same time obviously you can’t let your mind wander to any of that too much – we’ve just got to keep working hard and hopefully winning games at Exeter.”

:: Land Rover is recruiting all 96 Rugby World Cup 2015 official mascots as part of its ‘We Deal In Real’, campaign. For your chance to get involved, Land Rover will be holding mascot auditions at the Premiership Rugby Final, on May 30th in the South Car Park of Twickenham. @LandRoverRugby #WeDealInReal

Published: Tuesday 5th May 2015 by The News Editor

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