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Rob Baxter confirms there will be no ‘Novak Djokovic’ situation with Henry Slade

Henry Slade

Exeter Chiefs director of rugby Rob Baxter has confirmed that Henry Slade will face no issues should he travel to France to play Montpellier.

England and Exeter centre Slade, who is a Type-1 diabetic, discussed his reluctance to get a Covid-19 vaccine in an interview with The Telegraph last May.

Slade released a statement through Exeter Chiefs the day after that article had been published, explaining that he was “acutely aware of the importance of vaccines” but that he himself had experienced issues from vaccinations in the past.

New travel rules which came into effect on January 14th state that travellers from the UK to France must self-isolate on arrival for 10 days if they are not fully vaccinated, which rules out the possibility of unvaccinated British players playing in France.

This, in turn, raised speculation that Slade wouldn’t be able to play in Exeter’s game against Montpellier on Sunday, as well as in England’s Six Nations encounter with France, but Baxter revealed in a press conference that there will be no issues.

Rob Baxter on Henry Slade’s availability.

“I wouldn’t tell you [if Slade is playing] pre-selection anyway but he is available, yes. Put it this way, if you don’t see him picked it won’t be because he is injured unless he gets injured today [Wednesday] in training,” Baxter said, via RugbyPass.

“Surmise of it what you want. The truth is – and I know Henry doesn’t mind me saying this – despite what everybody said and what everyone tried to report, Henry never said that he wasn’t going to get vaccinated.

“He said at the time he wanted to see what the situation was and that was months and months and months ago. That is all I am prepared to say because that is what Henry said was fine to say. He never said he wasn’t going to have it, he said he wanted to see what the situation was. Everybody else seems to have surmised what they want from that.

“It is not for me to discuss every player’s individual medical status but you guys will see the team when we go over there and we have got no players with medical exemptions or anything like that, so there is no Novak Djokovic business going on anywhere.”

Good news for England and Exeter fans.

Confirmation that Slade will be able to play in France will be welcomed by England and Exeter supporters, who had been afraid that the talented centre wouldn’t be available for some crucial matches.

Slade has long been an invaluable player for the Chiefs, while he also started in all three of England’s Autumn Nations Series matches in November.

A win against Montpellier in France would guarantee that Exeter progress to the knock out stages of the Heineken Champions Cup, although the Chiefs are very likely to qualify regardless of the result on Sunday.

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