Exeter's Slade named Premiership player of season

Henry Slade lines up a conversion while playing for Exeter Chiefs
Henry Slade ended the regular season as the leading points scorer in the Premiership with 152 [Getty Images]

Exeter Chiefs and England centre Henry Slade has been named Premiership player of the season for 2023-24.

The 31-year-old had been nominated alongside Northampton Saints duo Fin Smith and Courtney Lawes, as well as Bath fly-half Finn Russell.

Immanuel Feyi-Waboso, Slade's team-mate at club and international level, was named breakthrough player of the season.

Phil Dowson, whose Northampton side finished top of the Premiership table with 12 wins from 18 games, won the director of rugby award.

Slade's excellent form contributed to Exeter being in with a chance of reaching the Premiership play-offs going into their final match at Leicester, however, defeat by the Tigers and results elsewhere meant Chiefs eventually finished seventh.

He recently agreed a new contract with the Devon club, ending speculation that he may move to France.

Slade was left out of England's Rugby World Cup squad before the campaign began, but started all five matches of England's Six Nations campaign earlier this year and now has 62 caps for his country.

Winger Feyi-Waboso, 21, made his international debut during the Six Nations, having opted to represent England over his native Wales.

He beat Harlequins duo Fin Baxter and Chandler Cunningham-South, and Newcastle flanker Guy Pepper, to claim the breakthrough player award.

Other prizes announced at the ceremony in London included Saracens' Andy Christie being named community player of the season and a special recognition award for Wayne Barnes, who ended his refereeing career after officiating South Africa's Rugby World Cup final victory over New Zealand in October.

Saints quintet named in team of season

Northampton, who host Saracens in the first Premiership semi-final on 31 May, contribute five players to the Premiership's team of the season.

Fly-half Smith is joined by back-row Lawes, second-row Alex Coles, hooker Curtis Langdon and winger Ollie Sleightholme - the Premiership's leading try-scorer in 2023-24.

Lock Rusi Tuima joins Exeter team-mates Slade and Feyi-Waboso in the line-up, which was selected by a panel of journalists, commentators and pundits.

Five other clubs - Saracens, fellow semi-finalists Bath, Harlequins, Bristol Bears and Leicester Tigers - are represented in the team.

Premiership Rugby team of the season: Tyrone Green (Harlequins); Immanuel Feyi-Waboso (Exeter), Henry Slade (Exeter), Benhard Janse van Rensburg (Bristol), Ollie Sleightholme (Northampton); Fin Smith (Northampton), Ben Spencer (Bath); Fin Baxter (Harlequins), Curtis Langdon (Northampton), Thomas du Toit (Bath), Rusi Tuima (Exeter), Alex Coles (Northampton), Courtney Lawes (Northampton), Ben Earl (Saracens), Jasper Wiese (Leicester).