Exeter Chiefs’ Henry Slade was today acclaimed as a player with the potential to win 50 caps for England as he was named Aviva Premiership Rugby Player of the Month for February.
Slade was in sensational form in February as Chiefs moved into the Aviva Premiership Rugby top four and he received a call-up earlier this week for the England training squad to take on Scotland.
In the month of February, Chiefs were one of only three Aviva Premiership Rugby teams to win all three of their league matches as they climbed from fifth to third in the table.
BT Sport analyst and Aviva ambassador Austin Healey believes that Slade was instrumental in that impressive run, which has set them up for a tilt at the Aviva Premiership Rugby semi-finals for the first time in their history.
"Every time Henry Slade touches the ball something happens," said Healey. "There is no doubt in my mind the lad has the potential to win 50 caps or more for England. He is too talented and works too hard not to achieve Test caps.
"I have been watching him closely this season and I believe he is ready to step into the England team now.
"Henry is one of the best attackers in Aviva Premiership Rugby, is solid in defence and can kick goals – is there anything this lad can’t do? Those attributes make him a much deserved winner of the Aviva Premiership Rugby Player of the Month Award for February.
"The only decision left is where he finally plays for England. It could be any of three positions – 12, 13 or 15."
Slade beat an impressive shortlist of Elliot Daly (Wasps), Calum Clark (Northampton Saints) and Sinoti Sinoti (Newcastle Falcons) to win the award.
Rugby fans also had their say on who deserved to win the coveted Aviva Premiership Rugby Player of the Month Award, as they became the 10th Judge. Joining the panel of nine judges, fans voted for the player that had impressed them the most during the month of February.
Fans can get involved and vote for their Aviva Premiership Rugby Player of the Month for March by visiting www.aviva.co.uk/10thjudge from noon on Sunday 29 March. Each month, one lucky fan who votes will be selected at random to win four tickets to an Aviva Premiership Rugby game of their choice! This month’s winner was Alan Bowkett (Gloucester Rugby Fan) who won the prize for voting this month. He chose two tickets to Gloucester Rugby v Newcastle Falcons as well as a replica ball.
As well as securing the votes of hundreds of fans, Slade was voted for by a panel of media professionals – Nick Mullins (BT Sport), Alastair Eykyn (BT Sport), Mick Cleary (The Daily Telegraph), Steve James (The Sunday Telegraph), Sarah Mockford (Rugby World), Jill Douglas (ITV Sport), Chris Jones (BBC 5 Live), David Rogers (Getty Images) and Ben Coles (Planet Rugby). The panel was chaired by Paul Morgan, Premiership Rugby's Communications Director.
Slade wins a trophy and £250 to donate to a charity of his choice.
Winners in the 2014-15 season
September – Kyle Eastmond (Bath Rugby)
October – Semesa Rokoduguni (Bath Rugby)
November – Thomas Waldrom (Exeter Chiefs)
December – Samu Manoa (Northampton Saints)
January – Jonathan Joseph (Bath Rugby)
February – Henry Slade (Exeter Chiefs)
Winners in the 2013-14 season
September – Jacques Burger (Saracens)
October – Samu Manoa (Northampton Saints)
November – George Ford (Bath Rugby)
December – Nick Easter (Harlequins)
January – Dylan Hartley (Northampton Saints)
February – Vereniki Goneva (Leicester Tigers)
March – Danny Cipriani (Sale Sharks)
April – Chris Ashton (Saracens)