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England centre Henry Slade to start in France for Exeter

By PA
Henry Slade evades DTH van der Merwe

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England centre Henry Slade has been named in Exeter’s team for their Heineken Champions Cup clash against Montpellier in France on Sunday.

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He will line up alongside Sean O’Brien in midfield as Chiefs look to secure a place in the competition’s round of 16.

Slade’s availability for selection had been confirmed on Thursday, handing a boost to England ahead of the Six Nations.

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Slade, a type one diabetic, stated in May that he would decline the coronavirus vaccine, questioning whether “you can trust it” and pointing to the extensive testing programme in place at Gallagher Premiership clubs.

Slade later clarified those remarks that appeared in a national newspaper interview, stating that because of his medical status he had experienced “issues in the past with the use of vaccines”.

It raised the prospect that he would be out of contention for England’s trips this season to Italy and France, where Covid passes are compulsory to participate in any sporting event.

But Exeter director of rugby Rob Baxter revealed on Thursday that Slade could be selected for this weekend’s game, and the PA news agency understands he has now been vaccinated.

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“I don’t think we’ve ever been to France and had an easy game,” warned Exeter Chiefs DoR Rob Baxter. “We’ve been there and won games, but equally we’ve been there and we’ve lost as well. What past experience tells us is that we should expect a blood and thunder game and that’s what we have to prepare for if we want to give ourselves the best chance of coming home with a victory.”

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