Exeter Chiefs centre Henry Slade believes the English club are now in with “a genuine shout” of qualifying for the quarter-finals of the Heineken Champions Cup this month.
The Sandy Park side sit third in Pool 2 with eight points from their first four matches – but just four points behind leaders Munster Rugby, whom they face in Limerick in Round 6.
Before that, Exeter will be looking for a bonus-point success over TOP 14 champions Castres, whom they host on Sunday, but Slade acknowledges they will be no pushovers, since Exeter have already been beaten by the French side in Round 2.
“Castres, we know, will be tough, but we’ve given ourselves a genuine shout of qualification,” the 25-year-old told Chiefs TV. “Now, we have to fight for it as much as we can.
“We’ve got a few weeks away from the Premiership, so we’ve just got to focus all our attentions on these next two games and see where it takes us.”
— Exeter Chiefs (@ExeterChiefs) January 8, 2019
Having initially looked in danger of being cut adrift in Pool 2 after no wins from their first three matches, an away success in Gloucester alongside Castres’ victory over Munster in Round 4 has left all four sides in with a realistic chance of qualification, something Slade was keen to point out.
“The last round of fixtures were good for us,” said the England international. “We beat Gloucester and Castres won at home to Munster, so it’s thrown it all open again.
“Whereas initially it didn’t look good for us, all of a sudden we’re very much alive in the competition and as a group we’re really excited about these next two weeks.”