Henry Slade plays centre for the Exeter Chiefs and England and has performed at the highest level on both the domestic and international scene. He is currently in the national squad for their Six Nations campaign, featuring in the starting lineup in the side’s opening defeat against Scotland and recent victory over Italy.
Whilst most fans are aware of his world-class skill on the pitch, not many are aware of his autoimmune disease which creates challenges for him on and off the pitch.
Slade, 28, was 18 when he was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes, a condition where one’s blood glucose is too high because their pancreas is unable to produce the hormone insulin. Insulin is a hormone that breaks down glucose in the blood and converts it to energy but, for Type 1 diabetics, insulin cannot be produced. Daily insulin injections are essential in order to keep blood glucose levels under control, not too high or too low, both of which can be life-threatening if not properly treated.
Henry Slade was diagnosed with diabetes the same year in which he signed his first professional contract at Exeter.
With the developments in medicine for managing diabetes, Slade now has a chip inserted in his body that constantly measures his blood glucose levels and alerts him if his sugars are approaching levels that are too high or low.
Slade had to work out what best suited his body, when to give himself insulin to lower his blood sugar and when to increase it by giving himself jelly babies or glucose sweets. The medical team can constantly check his blood sugar and he keeps a supply of jelly babies at the side of the pitch in case his blood sugar levels fall during the game.
Type 1 diabetes has not stopped Slade from being a world-class athlete and he has managed to balance type 1 diabetes with a career in professional rugby.
Slade is expected to gain another cap this weekend in the most anticipated match against Wales at a full capacity Twickenham. Manu Tuilagi is available this weekend in the battle against Wales in a full house at Twickenham. Tuilagi, 30, is set to return alongside Henry Slade in the midfield where England will be hoping this partnership can bring the roses victory on their own turf.
Wales and Cardiff wing Josh Adams has recovered from injury just in time to face England this weekend. Adams played at centre for the opening defeat against Ireland but missed the win over Scotland with a calf injury. Willis Halaholo is also available for the trip to Twickenham after a hamstring injury and then an eye injury had kept the centre out of the team.
After England’s loss against Scotland, they were able to deliver a comprehensive performance against Italy securing a bonus point in a 33-0 win. Wales also moved on from their defeat in Dublin against Ireland with a victory against Scotland in Cardiff, narrowly beating them 20-17.
Both teams have one win and one loss each which sets up this seismic battle perfectly for this weekend.