Slade will enjoy home support while playing for country
Henry Slade believes he has a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity tomorrow night when international rugby comes to Plymouth.
The Exeter Chiefs fly-half is named in England's team to take on Scotland in the opening Under-20 Six Nations match of 2013 at Plymouth Albion's Brickfields ground (5.45pm) – a game which will be shown live on Sky Sports.
It is the first time Brickfields has hosted an Under-20 international and, unless Albion or Plymouth Argyle are ever awarded an England Saxons or World Cup game in the future, then it is probably the last chance Slade will ever get to pull on his country's shirt in his home city.
"It is always nice to play for your country," said the former Plymouth College pupil, who will earn his fifth England Under-20 cap tomorrow. "But it is even better doing it so close to home. I probably won't ever get a chance like this again."
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Slade, who came through Ivybridge's junior set-up, is not the only player with Plymouth links in the Under-20 team. Fellow former Plymouth schoolboy and Devonport Services product Jack Arnott is in the line-up, as is Exeter's former Ivybridge Community College pupil, Sam Hill.
Arnott is a Chiefs and Albion dual-registered player, as is Luke Cowan-Dickie, while Ivybridge pupil Joel Conlon is another Exeter player in tomorrow's team.
"It will be so nice to play in front of a home crowd," said Slade, who is no stranger to Brickfields. Although he is contracted to Exeter, he has been dual-registered with Plymouth for two seasons.
When fit and available, he has been a regular starter for Albion this term and he has been filling in England's other players on what to expect at Brickfields tomorrow. "I have been giving them a few little pointers," he said. "The pitch has been in pretty good nick."
Slade played in the Under-20 Six Nations last season and also the IRB Junior World Cup in South Africa in the summer. He and Cowan-Dickie are seen as key members of the squad. "We are a bit more experienced and feel a bit more comfortable [in the squad]," Slade said.
Slade has made ten first-team appearances for Albion this term, and also started for Exeter last weekend in the LV= Cup at Bath. "Having more game-time has helped me so much," he said. "As a fly-half, playing regularly is the main way you improve."
Like the rest of the Under-20 squad, he is aiming higher. Slade said: "Players who have progressed into the Saxons and senior squads have shown, if you play well for the Under-20s, you can get a chance."
Former St Boniface and Ivybridge Community College pupil Arnott will make his Under-20 debut tomorrow. He said: "I'm really looking forward to playing in front of a home crowd."
England Under-20: A Watson (London Irish), J Arnott (Exeter Chiefs), H Sloan (Harlequins), S Hill (Exeter Chiefs), B Howard (Worcester), H Slade (Exeter Chiefs), A Day (Northampton), L Cowan-Dickie (Exeter Chiefs), M Crumpton (Saracens), K Sinckler (Harlequins), E Stooke (Gloucester), D Barrow (Leeds), R Moriarty (Gloucester), J Conlon (Exeter Chiefs), J Clifford (Harlequins). Replacements: D Herriott (Northampton), D Hobbs-Awoyemi (Northampton), S Wilson (Newcastle), T Jubb (Saracens), G Jones (Wasps), N Fowles (Sale), W Hooley (Northampton), M Jennings (Sale).