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Henry Slade says 'history means nothing' as Exeter face European rugby royalty

By AAP
Henry Slade evades DTH van der Merwe

Henry Slade says that “history means nothing” ahead of Exeter’s crunch Heineken Champions Cup quarter-final clash against Leinster on Saturday.

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It is just six months since the Chiefs conquered Europe, claiming a maiden title after beating French challengers Racing 92 in Bristol.

They barely had time to gather breath following that memorable triumph, with the current campaign starting just four weeks after the previous one finished as Exeter claimed a European and domestic double by defeating Wasps at Twickenham.

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Chiefs’ reign as European champions will end if Leinster topple them at Sandy Park.

Only four teams – Leinster, Leicester, Toulon and Saracens – have successfully defended the European Cup in its 26-year history.

The Irish heavyweights, chasing a record fifth European Cup triumph this season, play their 16th quarter-final – and they have won eight of the last 10.

“We know how hard they fight for everything,” Exeter and England centre Slade said.

“There are a few areas where we are going to have to be really strong and really smart. We’ve got to give them the respect they deserve, but not too much, because we want to be the ones being the aggressors.

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“History means nothing. It’s all about what we are doing in our next game.

“It (last season) was brilliant and an unbelievable time, but it is the past now. We know the quality Leinster have got and what they are going to bring, and we want to get out at the weekend and do ourselves justice.

“You have to have that genuine belief. I am sure Leinster are in exactly the same boat, having absolute faith in what they are doing.

“Leinster historically are very, very good in this competition. We are a fair bit newer to it, but we won it last year and we are wanting to carry on from where we left off.

“We’ve been through some lows together and some highs, and I think we’ve come off them and learnt things about each other.

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“I feel like we are in a good place at the minute, but it doesn’t come without a lot of hard work.”

Slade, who missed England’s comprehensive Guinness Six Nations defeat against a Leinster-studded Ireland team last month because of injury, started four games in that tournament.

Champions Cup
(Photo by Dan Mullan/Getty Images)

Defeats against Ireland, Scotland and Wales consigned England to a fifth-placed finish, and Slade added: “It was massively disappointing.

“To finish in fifth doesn’t feel like a fair result of how much work we put in over the tournament and in training each week. It is frustrating.

“Although we got off to a bad start against Scotland – the performance wasn’t anywhere near where we want to be – I thought against Italy we showed signs of wanting to throw the ball about more and playing a more attacking game, and the Wales game we did more of that.

“We didn’t get much go our way that game, and then France was a really good performance and great result against a really good side.

“To bookend the tournament with disappointing performances was frustrating, but I thought in the middle of it we did a lot of good.”

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Shaylen 1 hours ago
Jack Willis' Champions Cup masterclass proves English eligibility rules need a rethink

If France, Wales, England, Scotland and Ireland got together and all changed their eligibility laws in the same way SA has it would be absolutely bonkers. All players from all nations involved in Europe would be fair game as would their coaches. The investment in rugby would be supercharged as teams would rush to create dream teams. Transfer markets would be super charged, salary caps may change, private investment would grow as rich backers first buy clubs and then put money into their clubs in an effort to land the best players. The richest clubs and franchises would benefit most but money and players would move across borders at a steady flow. Suddenly countries like Wales and Scotland would have a much larger pool of players to select from who would be developed and improved in systems belonging to their rivals within superstar squads while their clubs receive large sums in the transfer market. The Six Nations would experience a big boost as the best players become available all the time. The Champions cup would become even more fiercely contested as the dream teams clash. Fan engagement would grow as fans would follow their favourite players creating interest in the game across the continent. Transfer markets and windows would become interesting events in themselves, speculation would drive it and rumours of big transfers and interest in players would spread. All of this is speculation and much of it would not eventuate straight away but just like in football the spread of players and talent would create these conditions over time. The transfer markets in European football is proof of this. Football had the same club vs country debate eons ago and favoured an open system. This has made it the largest game in the world with global interest and big money. Rugby needs to embrace this approach in the long run as well

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J
Jon 7 hours ago
Waratahs 'counter-culture' limits Wallaby options for Joe Schmidt

This is a bit dramatic for me, I think the Rebels and Force cultures would be very strong, and if a player is chosen from either, you can be confident they are in a good head space and ready. Whether they quite have the technical or tactical foundations of the other two states is where one would way their risk of selection. I see no need for Schmidt to worry about that risk in this squad. The main reason I could see a predominance of players from Brumbies and Reds, is simple cohesion. What might the coaching group make of what’s lacking in the Tahs, and to a lesser extent Rebels and Force’s, franchise? Certainly sides (players) that are running irish plays like we saw from that lovely McDermott long ball with have a head start. I hope the players can continue it at International level. Really liked what I saw of Wright (don’t know player focus and just hadn’t seen a lot of him anyway) in that game, can see him being a glue in a Wallaby side too. A with the similar worry of selecting players like Ryan, I think it unfounded to worry so much about forward balance at the moment. Including both Wright and Skelton in the same lineout is not going to lose you games gainst Wales. Nor will any unknown weakenss Wales might find in Ryan be exploited to any great extent. It is the perfect time to introduce such a young player. What other shortcuts might Schmidt want to make now, just a year out from hosting BIL? When Gamble came on the scene I thought he had a Pocock ability to break game apart along with performing the role of a openside well. I would be very keen to drop Leota/Hooper for Gamble, and in your squad make up, include Uru as a lock. Did you forget to remove Vunivalu from your team? Would you have Meafou in your squad if you could?

114 Go to comments
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