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Look out for the next Slade or Nowell at Exeter’s Singha 7s in one month’s time

It is a safe bet that the stars of tomorrow will be featuring in the Singha Premiership Rugby 7s series this year – indeed hosts on 23 July, Exeter Chiefs, can boast two famous graduates of their own.

Sandy Park will be the venue for a juicy Group B on Saturday 23 July – featuring Chiefs, their West Country rivals Bristol Rugby and Bath Rugby, and last year’s finalists Wasps.

All of the ingredients for a scintillating day of rugby are in place, and supporters should look out for the names on show because they will be seeing future rugby stars in action.
 
Henry Slade and Jack Nowell were given their first taste of competitive action at the tournament way back in 2011 – five years later they are fully-fledged England internationals.

The duo, then the tender age of 18, flashed potential on debut and were part of the team that secured a thrilling 19-19 draw with London Irish, which involved an encounter with fellow England star Anthony Watson.

Watson – now of Bath Rugby – drew first blood for the Exiles but Slade kept his cool to nail a late conversion and start the round off in thrilling fashion.

After a heavy loss to Harlequins in the second game, Exeter were cruelly denied a win despite a teenage Slade again playing a starring role.

His last-ditch try sealed a 21-17 victory for Chiefs over Bath but, by virtue of their losing bonus point, the latter qualified for the 2011 Series Finals Day instead of Exeter.

However, the pair have more than made up for that early disappointment as, whether it be for club or country, success has followed them ever since.

Exeter’s rise can be told through both Slade and Nowell’s trajectory with the club going from newly-promoted to Aviva Premiership Rugby finalists in the space of just six years.

Nowell had been billed for the rigours of senior action even as a teenager and in his breakthrough season in Aviva Premiership Rugby, as a 19-year-old, he played 11 times and dotted down twice.

He quickly evolved into one of the league’s deadliest try-scorers and his strike-rate of eight tries from 13 appearances last year included a superb try-scoring performance in a losing effort against Saracens in the final.

Nowell – who made his England debut at 20 against France – is also a favourite of Eddie Jones, appearing in every game as the Red Rose soared to a Grand Slam and a first-ever series victory in Australia.

Slade made his first Aviva Premiership Rugby start at the grand old age of 20 – and quickly established himself as a talent every inch the equal of Nowell.

His versatility is one of his key strengths as he is equally adept at fly-half and in the centres, and possesses a trusty boot to match.

The 2014-15 season is when things truly kicked off for the Plymouth-born back, starting 22 of 22 Aviva Premiership Rugby games and bagging a 150-point haul which included seven tries.

Slade, who has two international caps to his name, also joined Nowell in England’s 2015 Rugby World Cup squad.

While the pair’s achievements continue to rack up, more talented youngsters are being forged at Exeter – don’t miss the chance to witness the first steps of the next Slade or Nowell at Sandy Park next month.
 
The Singha Premiership Rugby 7s kicks off on 22 July at Cardiff Arms Park with the Finals at the Ricoh Arena on Sunday 7 August. For tickets and details visit premiershiprugby.com/singha7stickets
 

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