Henry Slade relishing the chance to play for England in Plymouth
HENRY SLADE believes he has a once in a lifetime opportunity tomorrow when international rugby comes to Plymouth.
Fly-half Slade is named in England's team to take on Scotland in the opening Under-20 Six Nations match of 2013 at Plymouth Albion's Brickfields ground (5.45pm) – a game which will be shown live on Sky Sports HD.
It is the first time Brickfields has hosted an under-20 international and unless Albion or Argyle are ever awarded an England Saxons or World Cup game in the future, then it is probably the last chance Slade will ever get to pull on his country's shirt in his home town.
"It is always nice to play for your country," said the former Plymouth College pupil, who will earn his fifth England Under-20 cap tomorrow. "But it is even better doing it so close to home.
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"I probably won't ever get a chance like this again."
Slade, who came through Ivybridge's junior set-up, is not the only player with Plymouth links in the England Under-20 team.
Fellow former city schoolboy and Devonport Services product Jack Arnott is also in the England party, as is former Ivybridge Community College pupil Sam Hill, current Albion dual-registered player Luke Cowan-Dicke and current Ivybridge pupil Joel Conlon.
"It will be so nice to play in front of a home crowd," said Slade.
"All my family are coming to watch and quite a few friends have said they are also coming."
Slade is no stranger to Brickfields.
Although he is contracted to Exeter Chiefs, he has been dual-registered with Albion for the past two seasons.
When fit and available, he has been a regular starter for Albion this term.
And he admits he has been filling in England's other players on what to expect at Brickfields tomorrow.
"I have been giving them a few little pointers," said Slade.
"The pitch has been in pretty good nick."
Slade played in the Under-20 Six Nations last season and also the IRB Junior World Cup in South Africa in the summer.
But now he and Cowan-Dickie are seen as key members of the squad.
"There are a few of us in our second year," said Slade. "We are a bit more experienced and feel a bit more comfortable (in the squad)."
Slade had an injury-hit campaign in 2011-12 but this season has been going well for him.
Not only has he made 10 first team appearances for Albion, he also started for Exeter last weekend in their LV=Cup match at Bath.
"Having more game-time has helped me so much," said Slade. "As a fly-half, playing regularly is the main way you improve."
Slade, like the rest of the England Under-20 squad, hope one day to progress through to the senior squad.
In recent seasons a number of players have done that.
Slade said: "You want to play well for the under-20s.
"Those players that have progressed into the (England) Saxons and senior squad have shown that if you do play well for the under-20s you can get a chance."
Former St Boniface and Ivybridge Community College pupil Arnott will make his under-20 debut tomorrow.
He, like Slade, is thrilled at the prospect of running out for his country in his home city.
Arnott said: "I'm really looking forward to playing in front of a home crowd. I've got some family coming down. I'm sure it will be a great occasion.
"We're expecting a tough, physical game from Scotland but at the moment we're just concentrating on ourselves."