EXCLUSIVE: A fit and revitalised Henry Slade is back on the glory trail following a summer shoulder operation… after the Exeter centre revealed he had been playing with an injury issue since 2018
- Exeter centre Henry Slade is set to return after shoulder operation over summer
- The England international revealed he was struggling with the issue since 2018
- He is looking forward to a strong season to build towards the 2023 World Cup
The imminent return of a fit and revitalised Henry Slade for the new Gallagher Premiership season is one which should enthuse not only Exeter supporters but also Eddie Jones.
In a brutal sport which pushes its competitors to their physical limits, it is rare these days for any player to be without some sort of pain or knock.
But Slade’s revelation he has been playing with a shoulder problem since 2018 is particularly noteworthy, especially when you consider what he has achieved with club and country in that time.
Henry Slade is set to return to the Exeter fold after a summer shoulder operation
The 48-cap England centre finally had surgery to repair his left shoulder in the summer and ensure he is fully fit for the 2022-23 campaign and the World Cup which follows it.
‘I’m hoping it’s going to feel like a new start,’ Slade, 29, told Sportsmail. ‘That’s the plan anyway!’
‘The injury was something that had been bothering me for a number of years. I injured myself back in 2018 so to finally get it sorted was quite a relief.
‘It’s been c*** playing with it for quite a while. There is never really a good time to be out, but we made the decision for it to be this summer ahead of a big year so I can get fit and get some form.
Slade’s return will also prove good news to Eddie Jones ahead of next year’s World Cup
‘I want to put my hand up for England selection. I need to play as well as I can for Exeter to start with and hopefully that can put me in contention for the World Cup at the end of the year. This is a big year internationally as everyone knows so I want to be in as best shape as possible.’
Slade has 48 caps for England, scoring 39 points
His more immediate priority is starting the new season with Exeter. Saturday’s home game against last season’s title winners Leicester might come too soon. But he will be back in action for Rob Baxter’s Chiefs at some point this month.
Last season, Exeter failed to reach the Premiership final for the first time since 2016.
‘We’ve had a rebrand and that has come as a natural reset really,’ Slade said, referring to Exeter’s removal of their native American imagery from the club’s crest.
‘We didn’t have the best season last year, but we’ve been really excited in pre-season to start the rebuild process. We want to keep getting better and better as a team. We’ve had a really good energy around the club.
‘Watching the play-offs last season was very frustrating for me and the rest of the lads. You always want to win every year.’
Exeter will play host to Leicester in their season opener on Saturday, September 10
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