“I went to the Devon county trials as an under-15 and I didn’t get in because they said I was too small. I was gutted but I reminded myself that you usually end up being taller than your mum and she was 5ft 11in. So I had hope.”
Does Slade believe English rugby is too caught up in physicality, at the expense of skill?
“From my experience, yeah, in the lower age groups. Other boys had a lot of skill and they weren’t picked for the county side because they weren’t big or powerful – even if you could see the smaller kid would be better in the long run. A lot were lost but, in my case, I just kept plugging away. It comes down to mentality, doesn’t it? If you’ve got that competitive edge it makes you stronger. I kept trying and trying and it paid off eventually. But it was a long road.”Food for thought. Especially as I got an email in the afternoon from Surrey Rugby saying that Ben has been nominated, by the head of rugby at his school, for the U15 County Player Development Programme and inviting him to an Assessment Day early in December.
"I just kept plugging away."