Ed Slater: Former lock takes encouragement from support ahead of Slater Cup

Ed Slater: Former lock takes encouragement from support ahead of Slater Cup

Ed Slater played his last match for Gloucester in January this year

Former Gloucester and Leicester lock Ed Slater, who was diagnosed with motor neurone disease (MND), says he feels “encouragement and pride” ahead of the first Slater Cup.

His two former sides meet on Saturday in the Premiership and will contest the first trophy named in his honour.

The trophy will be awarded to the winner of the match across both league fixtures each season.

“It’s been a real source of encouragement in an extremely bleak time, I’ll be honest. You can’t help but at times feel alone when something like this happens,” Slater told BBC Radio Leicestershire.

“The support I’ve had from the MND community, but not just them but the rugby community, gives you a real sense of encouragement and a bit of pride as well.

“I spent a long time at Leicester and Gloucester and like to think the supporters acknowledge that when I was playing at those clubs I did absolutely everything I could to be playing the best I could and delivered on the pitch.

“You never expect to be in this situation but I’ve been placed here and the encouragement and the messages and support I’ve had is a great source of comfort for me and my family but also a great source of motivation.”

‘Flying into battle’

Ed Slater playing for Leicester in 2016
Slater spent two years as captain at Leicester during his seven years with the club

Slater will be at Welford Road for the match and said he was “blown away” by the creation of the cup.

He spent seven years with the Tigers where he captained the side for two seasons and won the Premiership title in 2012-13. He joined Gloucester in 2017 and made 90 appearances.

Slater set up the 4ED campaign after his diagnosis to raise awareness of MND, as well as money to support his treatment and family and 5% of every ticket sold for the match will go towards the fund.

“The other side is about MND and raising awareness of MND and the impact it has on people. Not just for people diagnosed but for families as well,” he added.

“It is amazing for my family, for my kids and they will hopefully be turning up to Leicester and Gloucester games for years to come and they will be very proud of the fact.”

The match will be Richard Wigglesworth’s first at the helm at Leicester since taking over as interim head coach from Steve Borthwick.

The 39-year-old said he expected it to be a “huge contest”.

“I know Ed, everyone has been rocked by his diagnosis,” Wigglesworth said.

“I know both teams will want to do right by him, by flying into the battle like he would have done and like he is doing with his diagnosis. We are ready for a huge contest on Saturday.”

Fourth-placed Gloucester are one place and two points above the Tigers in the Premiership table.

The Cherry and Whites won their last league outing against Northampton at the start of December, while Leicester drew with Bristol.

Gloucester head coach George Skivington said the Slater Cup was on his team’s minds during the training week.

“We’re all in this with Ed and want to support him as best we can and I think it’s awesome that there’s going to be games now and in the future in Ed’s name,” he told BBC Radio Gloucestershire.

“Both teams have got a strong connection with Ed and it will make for an emotional day.”

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