Expensive chairs, in-house chefs and Churchill are all on the agenda in this exclusive interview with Henry Slade

Downtime with Exeter and England playmaker Henry Slade

What do you get up to in your spare time?

I’ve got a dog so I take him for nice walks. A lot of the boys have dogs so we go out together. He’s called Frank, after Frank the Tank in Old School, and is a cockapoo – he’s four in September.

In the summer I play a bit of golf; I don’t like to play if it’s wet! I play a bit of Fortnite – that’s hot right now – and whenever it’s nice weather I get out on the paddleboard. My dog likes it too.

What’s the funniest thing you’ve seen or heard on the pitch?

There was a guy who used to play for Exeter who didn’t wear pants under his shorts and once, in a maul, his shorts got pulled down so his pride and joy was hanging out. I’m not naming names.

Do you have any nicknames?

There are a few. There’s the obvious Sladey. I also get called Rusty because part of my hair, it’s not ginger but it goes copper in the summer. In my younger years, when I was about 18, I was pretty skinny and got called Skeletor, but I’ve not heard that for a while.

Who are the jokers at Chiefs?

Kai Horstmann and Carl Rimmer. Jonny Hill tries to do practical jokes – he’s always up to something.

Exeter and England playmaker Henry Slade

Chiefs joker: Jonny Hill celebrates scoring a try for Exeter (Getty Images)

Do you have any phobias?

I’ve got two, actually three. The first one is ketchup. I don’t like anything about it – not the taste, not the texture, not the smell. If you get a bit on your finger, the smell stays there for ages, even if you wash your finger. I don’t like brown sauce much, so I tend to go for mayonnaise. Snakes and sharks are my other phobias.

An England Women’s player is scared of baked beans…

There’s nothing wrong with baked beans. I’m just not good with ketchup.

Related: Downtime with England wing Kay Wilson

What are your bugbears?

I have a few! I don’t like people being unorganised. If we’ve got an away game and I’m rooming with Sam Hill, he won’t bring toothpaste, deodorant or shower gel. I have to make sure I’ve got enough for me and him – and he uses a lot.

I also don’t like people driving really slowly. I’m not advocating speeding as that’s very bad, but driving ridiculously slowly is frustrating. I’ve got OCD, so also when people are untidy.

Do you live on your own?

Michele Campagnaro rents a room off me. He’s basically my chef! He’s Italian so he cooks good pasta and makes his own pizza. He’s pretty tidy too. He also plays the guitar and I’ll lie on the sofa and drift off to sleep.

Who’d you like to be stuck in a lift with?

Have you seen The Greatest Showman? Zendaya – she’s nice. I like Deadpool’s girlfriend (actress Morena Baccarin). It would to be good to have a charismatic leader too, someone like Churchill.

Exeter and England playmaker Henry Slade

Hitch a lift? Actress Zendaya starred in The Greatest Showman (Getty Images)

If you could be any of your team-mates, who would it be?

I’d like to be someone who’s really quick for a day, like James Short, or Dave Ewers, who’s really strong. Imagine knowing you’re faster than everyone or stronger than everyone.

What’s your guilty pleasure?

Pancakes with Nutella and whipped cream. Music-wise, Natasha Bedingfield. It’s always good to put Unwritten on.

The silliest thing you’ve bought?

When I moved into my first house about three years ago, I bought a chair for the corner. It’s my chair for phone calls and is really comfy. When I was looking at it I didn’t really look at the price and when I went up to buy it, it was £900!

That’s not the sort of money I’d spend on a chair and I’d just put all my money into the house, so I shouldn’t have got it. But I still have it now and use it a lot.

If you could have one superpower, what would it be?

Have you seen the film Jumper? I’d like to be able to teleport between places like in that. I hate waiting around in airports so I’d like to be able to click my fingers and be somewhere.

Your Mastermind specialist subject?

Lord of the Rings or Harry Potter. I’d be pretty confident on either.

Do you have any hidden talents?

I’m not sure it’s a talent but I’m learning the guitar. I’m trying to get Michele to teach me but he’s a rubbish teacher!

This article originally appeared in the August 2018 issue of Rugby World magazine.

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