Henry Slade signs a new one-year deal at Exeter making him eligible for England – in huge boost to head coach Steve Borthwick in the wake of mass exodus of several stars to France


  • Mail Sport understands his deal is for a year with the option of another 12 months

England centre Henry Slade has recommitted his future to Exeter and Steve Borthwick’s national side by signing a new Chiefs deal.

Slade was a shock omission from Red Rose head coach Borthwick’s squad for last year’s World Cup but has responded impressively with a superb campaign for club and country.

The 31-year-old has been a stand-out figure in the Gallagher Premiership and returned to the Test arena during the Six Nations.

Mail Sport understands Slade’s Exeter contract extension is for one year with the option of a further 12 months.

His decision to stay in English club rugby bucks the trend which has seen many of the country’s top stars take up lucrative offers in France.

Henry Slade has signed a new one-year deal with Exeter – meaning he is eligible for England

Slade has re-established himself as a key player for England (pictured) after shining at Exeter

Slade has re-established himself as a key player for England (pictured) after shining at Exeter

‘There were a lot of factors behind my decision to stay at Exeter Chiefs,’ Slade said.

‘I love the club, I’m from just down the road, and my family get to come nearly every weekend to watch me play at Sandy Park. I joined the academy at 18, so the club is all I’ve ever really known as a professional rugby player. I feel very lucky to be able to say I’ve represented the club over 200 times.

‘I call Exeter my home. I’ve started a young family here – my eldest daughter starts school in September – so it just felt right to stay. I just didn’t feel like it was time to go.

‘There’s an extremely strong group coming through now and I’m relishing being one of the senior boys in amongst a group with so much potential to do some great things.’

Slade’s fellow experienced England Test caps Owen Farrell, Courtney Lawes, Lewis Ludlam and Kyle Sinckler have all agreed moves to France’s TOP14 for next season. Henry Arundell, Jack Willis, Jack Nowell, Joe Marchant and Sam Simmonds are playing there already.

Playing club rugby in France means you cannot represent England at Test level under the RFU’s controversial foreign policy ruling. But Slade, who has 230 Chiefs appearances and 858 points to his name, is staying put. With 145 points this season in the Premiership alone, he is the league’s leading scorer.

Exeter travel to Leicester Tigers on Saturday’s final day of the regular Premiership season knowing a bonus-point win would leave them in a good position to make the end-of-season play-offs. Bath, Sale, Harlequins and Bristol are rivalling them for the two remaining semi-final spots with Northampton and Saracens already qualified.

Slade's decision to remain at Exeter will be welcomed by England boss Steve Borthwick (left)

Slade’s decision to remain at Exeter will be welcomed by England boss Steve Borthwick (left)

Owen Farrell is leaving Saracens for Racing 92 - making himself ineligible for England

Owen Farrell is leaving Saracens for Racing 92 – making himself ineligible for England

‘Wanting to see what I could achieve with a new group did serve as a bit of a re-freshener as it posed a new challenge,’ said Slade, now a senior figure with the Chiefs.

‘I’ve been here for 12 years with a lot of the same faces. It felt like a very different club this year and coming into pre-season, it was an exciting challenge.

‘I’m more experienced now but I feel like I’m only just coming into my prime.

‘I feel physically in really good shape and mentally excited about what I’m doing and the opportunities here. I’m really looking forward to continuing my career here.’

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