Young Chiefs star Slade is delighted to increase exposure
Henry Slade is enjoying his increased exposure to first-team rugby this season, after winning the Junior World Championship with England during the summer.
The 20-year-old Exeter Chiefs fly-half was one of the stars of England's success in France, and he has taken the confidence he gained from that experience into the new season with his club.
Slade has been on the bench for all of the Chiefs' seven games so far, being chosen ahead of experienced former Wales international Ceri Sweeney as understudy to Gareth Steenson, and getting a few minutes here and there in the Premiership.
However, in the past two weeks of Heineken Cup action, the Chiefs' head coach, Rob Baxter, has given the talented youngster increased time to show what he can do, with 24 minutes against Cardiff Blues followed by another 57 in the 20-16 defeat to Glasgow last Sunday.
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Slade had the unusual experience of replacing a wing, Ian Whitten, at Scotstoun Stadium, after the Irishman limped off when Steenson received a yellow card in the 23rd minute.
Baxter was reluctant to go ten minutes without a recognised goalkicker and decision-maker in the number ten position, so he opted for Slade as a replacement, rather than wing Fetu'u Vainikolo, who was stripped and ready to come on.
When Steenson returned to the fray after his spell in the sin-bin, Slade switched to full-back, with Phil Dollman moving out to the flank.
"It was nice to get on against Glasgow," said Slade, who is dual-registered with Plymouth Albion. "It is awesome to be getting some game-time. I have been biding my time on the bench this season, but I got a bit longer than usual on Sunday and I enjoyed it.
"It is all about the team, though, and we would have loved to have won the game, but, looking at the bigger picture, to pick up a bonus point away from home in the Heineken Cup is important."
Slade put in some excellent touch-finding kicks against Glasgow to push the opposition back into their own 22, but the Chiefs were then unable to secure possession and the hosts were able to clear their lines.
Exeter led 9-6 at the break, but found themselves trailing 20-9 with eight minutes to go, before snatching a late try through Dave Ewers, which Slade converted, to earn a losing bonus point.
"The conditions weren't the best, but I think we played in the right areas of the pitch for most of the match," explained Plymouth-born Slade.
"I think we did well, once we went down by more than seven points, to get back into bonus-point range, and give ourselves a chance to kick on for the win. We didn't get it, but we still got a valuable point away from home."
Exeter now take a break from Europe until December, and turn their attentions back to the Premiership, in which they are sitting in a healthy sixth place in the division.
Bottom club Worcester Warriors are the visitors to Sandy Park on Saturday, without a win to their name yet this campaign. Slade insisted the Chiefs would pay scant heed to that fact. "We're not going to underestimate Worcester, but we go into every match the same," he said. "We intend to attack them, especially at Sandy Park, where we like to have a good record, and we will just take it to them and see what happens."