South Hams rugby star Henry Slade made his long-awaited Six Nations bow in England’s win over Italy.
Slade, who grew up in Yealmpton and played for Ivybridge RFC as a junior, won his fifth cap for his country after coming on in the 76th minute of a pulsating clash with the Azzurri, who had baffled England with their innovative no-rucking technique throughout the game.
Despite being given very little time to work his magic, Slade showed his class to collect a difficult pass and release Exeter Chiefs clubmate Jack Nowell with a sumptuous back of the hand offload in a move that eventually led to a try for the winger.
However, his impressive cameo was not rewarded with a place in the team to take on a resurgent Scotland this Saturday, with England coach Eddie Jones choosing to recall Bath’s Jonathan Joseph as his side chase a world-record-equalling 18th straight victory.
Slade put this disappointment to one side on Friday night for Exeter Chiefs’ trip to Welford Road to show off his myriad skills and help the Chiefs tame Leicester Tigers.
The Chiefs, who completed a league double over Tigers with an emphatic bonus-point victory, currently sit second in the Premiership and have an Anglo-Welsh Cup semi-final against Harlequins to look forward to this Sunday at Sandy Park.
As such, there is plenty for Slade to get his teeth into as he looks to force his way back in to England reckoning.
The Chiefs in fact featured two South Hams youngsters for their visit to the Midlands, as 21-year-old Stuart Townsend started his first Premiership match playing at scrum-half.
Townsend, from Kingsbridge, who like Slade played age-group rugby for England, overcame some early nerves to deliver a fine performance, including a smartly-taken try, in his time on the pitch.