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Steenson: ‘Slade transformed by World Cup experiences’

Henry Slade may have only featured once for England in the World Cup but Exeter Chiefs fly-half Gareth Steenson believes the 22-year-old has been "transformed" by his experiences at the tournament.

Slade is one of the most exciting talents in English rugby and capable of playing in a number of positions, including fly-half and both centre roles.

In his two matches since returning from international duty, Slade has played at outside centre with Steenson in the ten jersey.

And the Irishman has been impressed by what he has seen from Slade so far in the 2015/16 Aviva Premiership Rugby campaign.

Steenson said: “Henry has had a full season of playing at 13 and ten so he brings a lot of the ability that a ten has and the chat he comes with is really impressive. It makes life a lot easier knowing there is another kicking option outside of you, and another guy who can play at ten.

“The combination is working well at the minute but we have a lot of guys who can come in.

“With Sladey being away at the World Cup, he has probably picked up a lot more and learned a lot of lessons from the guys in that position, so he has definitely brought a lot back in his game and it has transformed him. We just have to try to keep up with it.”

Steenson moved to Exeter from Cornish Pirates in the summer of 2008 and helped the club win promotion into Aviva Premiership Rugby in 2010.

The Chiefs have since become a major force in English rugby’s top flight, only missing out on the play-offs last season by points difference, with fourth-placed Saracens going on to lift the title.

Exeter lost to Bath Rugby by two points in their opening game of this season but have since gone on to beat London Irish and Newcastle Falcons.

Steenson said: “It is tough to say whether squads are better than previous ones. We are just trying to progress.

“You have to appreciate that when we got promoted initially, the group was a very strong squad and a tight-knit group who knew how to play.

“We have established another way to play and have had a lot more top-flight experiences; we have been around the top four and we have beaten everybody in Aviva Premiership Rugby now.

“So you end up bringing in a few more international players who can add a little bit more and have a different mindset. You are bringing different guys from different cultures who bring different things to the side.

“The squad is very strong at the minute and we are very lucky on that front because we could put two teams out and compete well in the league. But ultimately we keep pushing each other in training and the guys who are not playing are training as hard as those that are, which is the main thing.”
 
To see all of the 2015-16 Aviva Premiership Rugby season fixtures, please click here #AvivaPrem
 

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