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A Tiger on the rise

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It seems unbelievable now to think that three-and-a-half short years ago Ed Slater was a rugby unknown.

Given his big chance by Leicester at a time of senior shortages due to injury, Slater quickly settled and there was instantly something ‘very Leicester’ about his game.

Born in the city but brought up in Milton Keynes, Slater was not on the radar of any English club when he decided to try his luck in Australia after leaving school. He fitted in so well there that he was offered development terms with the Waratahs and recommended to Leicester.

In September 2010 he earned a Tigers debut, has since played his part in squads that have reached three Premiership Finals, played in two European quarter-finals, been capped by England Saxons and been a member of the senior England squad.

Now, after an unbeaten four-game run as captain, he is about to lead the Tigers into a third Heineken Cup quarter-final in four seasons.

Slater’s stock seems to be on the rise, and not just in Leicester.

An easy-going, chatty personality off the pitch, Slater is definitely a tough nut on it. A strong scrummager and useful target in the lineout, he is also a willing ball-carrier with a liking for the hand-off and a hard-worker in defence too. Now he has the captaincy on his shoulders, and he seems to be lapping up the responsibility.

Wins over London Irish and Newcastle away gave him a good start, followed by a bonus-point victory over Exeter and then a derby triumph at Northampton, where he can count a number of good friends in the home end.

National media have started to take notice, many of them commenting on a natural blend of aggression, strength and ball-skills.

Now he has another big stage to show his value to the Tigers cause, as leader of men in a teak-tough European knockout. It could be a day made for Big Ed.