Slade set for Euro test
By Charlie Talbot-Smith
No odds are insurmountable for a team like Exeter and Henry Slade insists this Chiefs side are fully capable of breaking new ground in Europe this season.
Back-to-back defeats by Leinster before Christmas have left their hopes of making the Champions Cup knockout stages hanging by a thread.
They must win both of their remaining games over the next fortnight to have a chance of making it out of a packed Pool 3.
That starts with the visit of Top 14 powerhouse Montpellier to Sandy Park this weekend as Rob Baxter's side look to make the quarter-finals for the first time in their history.
But after their promotion to the top flight in England at the start of this decade, the boys from the south west made a habit of fearing no-one and achieving the previously unthinkable.
That includes a maiden Premiership crown last season at Twickenham, and Slade is confident there is still more to come.
"Going well in Europe is definitely the next step in our progression,' said the 24-year-old. "It's really hard to get into the Champions Cup in the first place, in the past I think we have maybe let it drift by.
"But you have to have gone well in the league all year to get the opportunity to play in it, now we have won the Premiership we have got a big squad, a lot of strength in depth and are able to fight on both fronts.
"That's why we were disappointed with how we went in the back to back with Leinster, because it's given us a more difficult task but one that is still possible. And we are going as hard as we can because it is a real goal to do well in Europe so we will do as much as we can to keep that alive.
"If we beat Montpellier then everything is back on for us so we are just focused on that. They have got some very big blokes so it will be tough but we are looking forward to getting back to Sandy Park and putting in a performance."
Beating Montpellier, with the likes of Aaron Cruden pulling the strings and Nemani Nadolo breaking tackles out wide, will take some doing.
But the Chiefs have already achieved it once, in France no less, in round two of Europe back in October.
And Slade is adamant that his side's strength in depth is a match for the expensively-assembled Top 14 outfit.
"This is definitely the best Chiefs squad I have been with, just take our back row for example," added Slade, speaking on behalf of Land Rover, who this season are celebrating 10 years of support for grassroots rugby in the UK through the Land Rover Premiership Rugby Cup.
"Everyone is as good as each other and it's actually quite scary to think of some of the options we have. And in the centres, myself and Ian Whitten have been playing a lot but there are three or four others guys coming back from injury and we have options and everywhere to be honest which is credit to how well Rob and the guys have recruited.
"We can afford to go hard after every competition we enter, if we get an injury or make a change there is no real difference in standard."
Henry Slade is a Land Rover ambassador. Land Rover has a heritage in rugby at all levels; from grassroots to elite and this season is celebrating its tenth year of support for grassroots rugby in the UK. Follow @LandRoverRugby #WeDealInReal