Exeter Chiefs: Henry Slade aims for England World Cup spot

By Chris JonesBBC Radio 5 live
Henry Slade
Henry Slade has started the 2014-15 Premiership season at outside centre for Exeter Chiefs

Henry Slade of Exeter Chiefs hopes his versatility can help him force his way into England's plans for next year's World Cup.

The 21-year-old, who can play at fly-half or at centre, started for an England XV in a non-cap international against the Barbarians in May.

He was also selected for an enlarged training squad later in the summer.

"To know you are in the frame is massive," said Slade, who signed a new long-term deal with Exeter on Saturday.

He told BBC Radio 5 live: "To be in the environment with all those top boys, and the top coaches as well, it's a step up in terms of intensity but it's awesome to be in the mix."

Slade has played most of his career to date at fly-half, but has impressed in the midfield this season, and excelled in Exeter's 25-22 win at Gloucester on Friday.

Henry Slade
Henry Slade appeared for an England XV against Barbarians earlier this year

"At this stage of my career, as long as I'm on the pitch I can't complain," continued Slade, who was part of the England Under-20 side that won the Junior World Championship in 2013. "I'm more than happy playing anywhere."

Slade sees his future at number 10 but his ability to play across the back line, allied with his long-range goal-kicking, could give him an edge when England head coach Stuart Lancaster considers the balance of his squad for the 2015 World Cup on home soil.

"I'd hope so," he said. "I'll just try and play as well as I can in whatever position I am picked in. At this stage of my career, game time is key. Whether it's at 10, 12 or 13, I'm more than happy."

Exeter director of rugby Rob Baxter sees Slade as a future international, adding: "I think without doubt he has the ability to be an England player.

"He's a sensible lad and I know he will keep his feet on the ground, and what's important is that we work extremely hard to give him all the opportunities we can to help him be the best player he can.

"If we can help him be the best player he can, then what will be will be with England. His performances will speak for themselves."