Milton Keynes rugby star Ed Slater isn’t just happy to be called up to the full England squad for the first time – he wants to play.
The Leicester Tigers forward has been included in the England squad for their Twickenham showdown with the Barbarians, and the summer tour to Argentina and Uruguay.
The 24-year-old is among 11 uncapped players chosen by head coach Stuart Lancaster in a 32-man squad for the trip to South American, which culminates in two huge clashes against Argentina in June.
“I got the call from Graham Rowntree, the forwards coach, and I was chuffed to bits,” said Slater, who began his career with Milton Keynes RUFC.
“He explained a few things about the tour and I couldn’t have been happier.
“I wasn’t really expecting the call to be honest, but when you play for a team like Leicester and you’re playing well, there is always a chance. But it wasn’t expected.
“Getting into the England team feels fantastic. But that was one challenge, the next is to make sure I’m involved in the Tests.
“I have played with a couple of Argentinians at Leicester and they can be quite an unforgiving bunch, but I’d love to play down there in those conditions.”
England face the Barbarians at Twickenham on May 26 before playing a CONSUR XV – representing the South American nations – in Montevideo, Uruguay, on June 2, and then Tests against Argentina in Salta (June 8) and Buenos Aires (June 15).
Slater has pulled on the national shirt before, having earned three caps for the England Saxons squad in 2012, while becoming an integral part of the Leicester side that finished second in the Aviva Premiership this season.
Their semi-final victory over Harlequins on Saturday booked a record ninth consecutive final appearance later this month.
“I had surgery on my knee to clear a few things up last summer and it was a difficult time to come back, with everyone else having done a proper pre-season,” said Slater.
“Then Louis Deacon suffered a shoulder injury and I came into the team for a run of games which was good.
“Now it’s all about finishing the season well and that ninth consecutive Premiership final. It’s an incredible achievement.
“Getting the call to play for the Saxons was fantastic. You couldn’t have found a happier man.
“Now to get called up for this summer is even better. I’m chuffed to bits, but I want to play.”