EXETER CHIEFS PRESEASON CATCH UP – HENRY SLADE
On Wednesday 1st August, Joff Alexander-Frye (our Editor-in-Chief – no pun intended) was invited to Sandy Park to find out about an exciting new partnership between the Exeter Chiefs and Red Bull. Most notably, this partnership centres around a brand new, state-of-the-art sports science suite which both first team and academy players are now able to use and benefit from.
Much of the technology that has been fitted in the new training suite is the same used by Red Bull’s Formula 1 team and it supplies players with industry-leading training equipment as well as providing coaches with the most insightful levels of data possible. This data can then be used in the development, recovery, injury analysis and training regimes of players. You can read more about the new facilities by clicking here.
Joff also sat down for one-to-one interviews with Chiefs first team and England players Henry Slade, Sam Simmonds and Luke Cowan Dickie.
Here are some excerpts from Joff’s chat with Henry Slade:
Hey Henry. Thanks for your time today. How has your week been so far?
Yeah, it’s been good. Pretty tiring too though. The coaches ease us back in gently from our five week summer break, but also work us hard too. They integrate us back in really well and know how hard to push us without risking damage or injury.
And what did you do with your summer break?
I went with a few of the boys to Croatia for a week. It was really chilled and a nice break from the physical and mental challenges of playing your best rugby week-in, week-out for a whole season. It was nice just to unwind and get some head-space; particularly after such a disappointing end to last season. As amazing as it felt to win the Premiership the year before, it was devastating to lose it last season. Having watched it back as a squad, we’ve realised just how much it was there for the taking. It just didn’t happen for us on the day.
I then went to Mauritius with my family to celebrate my Mum’s birthday. It was a big one (she probably wouldn’t appreciate me saying how old she is) and it was the first family holiday we’ve had in over ten years. We had a great time.
What do you do to unwind during the season?
I spend a lot of time with my team mates if i’m honest. We go out for coffee and lunch together all the time and I also play a lot with golf with them, which gets pretty competitive! The more that you trust and get on with your teammates off the pitch, the better you click on the pitch. It’s amazing playing with such a great bunch of lads. We play a lot of Fortnite too.
Who doesn’t right? So can we expect some Fortnite-style try celebrations this season then?
We intended on doing some last year, but in the excitement of the moment, kept forgetting. You’re so ‘in the zone’ when you’re playing that sometimes things like that just slip your mind. Watch this space though; i’ll see if I can remember this season!
Talking of the upcoming season, what personal hopes and goals do you have?
As any player would, I want to play a lot. I was pleased with my season last year and have been focussing on putting more pace onto the ball and playing a lot quicker. That frees up so many more options and focuses you on being more decisive. As a team, we were clearly devastated by our loss in the final, particularly as we had dominated for so much of the season running up to it. It was a huge learning experience for us as a squad and we are focused on going one better and reclaiming the Premiership title this season. Also, talking with a few of the lads over the summer break, we’re keen to give Europe a crack. Personally, I can’t wait to play against Munster who we have drawn in our group. I’ve always wanted to play at their stadium so I can’t wait to get stuck in and give them a good game when we play them.
What do you make of the new sports science facilities and the partnership with Red Bull?
I haven’t tried them out yet, but i’ve gone up to have a look around. The facilities are really impressive and will be a massive boost for our academy and first team players. We never had anything that advanced when we were coming through the academy. Being able to compare left limbs with right limbs, work out where your imbalances are and work more methodically on your strength and conditioning will be huge for the club.
Who would you say are your sporting heroes?
Jonny Wilkinson was a huge inspiration for me growing up. What he did as a player and for the game of rugby was just phenomenal. I also played a bit of football growing up and David Beckham was one of the main players I looked up to. Apart from the odd kick-around in the park, I don’t really play much football any more. If I did and I got injured, Rob would go nuts!
And, as a Plymouth boy, what do you make of Exeter?
I love Exeter! It has so much going for it and is also close to my family who still live near Plymouth. Exeter has everything that you need but it isn’t massive – the perfect balance. Also, it is really close to the coast. I will often go down to Exmouth on a sunny day and it’s amazing being so close to the beach. Also, I love going out to eat and there is all the choice you could want here. Saying that, my housemate (Michele Campagnaro) is Italian and is a great cook; particularly pasta dishes. He’s got to earn his keep hasn’t he!
What would you have done if your career in rugby hadn’t gone the way that it has?
Well, my extended family are all farmers but I don’t think I would’ve been able to do that full-time. Being totally honest, I have no idea what I would’ve done if rugby hadn’t panned out. I’m very lucky to have had this opportunity but I didn’t really have a ‘plan-B’ and had my heart set on playing professionally from a young age.
Good thing it worked out then, I guess! And, finally, have you started thinking about your plans post-rugby?
I still have a good few years ahead of me, but I have started giving it some thought, yes. I have recently purchased some Student Accommodation which I let out and I am hoping to build my property portfolio over the coming years.
So good to chat Sladey. Thanks for your time and I hope the rest of your preseason goes well and you have a fantastic year!