Rugby Union

Ed Slater to captain England against Crusaders

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The lock previously played four times for England Saxons. (©GettyImages)
The lock previously played four times for England Saxons. (©GettyImages).

Leicester Tigers’ Ed Slater will captain England against Super Rugby side Crusaders on Tuesday.

The lock is just one of four players who will make their first appearance for England in the tour match in Christchurch. Gloucester centre Henry Trinder, Bath winger Anthony Watson and Northampton Saints’ hero Alex Waller will also make their debuts.

Head coach Stuart Lancaster will want to trial some of the fringe players, as he looks to regain some pride in this series. New Zealand have an unassailable 2-0 lead with just one match to play, but will be missing centre Conrad Smith for Saturday’s game in Hamilton with a broken thumb.

‘Captain for the day’ Slater was one of Leicester’s best players last season, starting all but two matches for the Welford Road outfit. The 25-year-old has been nuisance for the opposition backs and forwards, with his physical presence and work-rate being highlighted as his main strengths.

Slater does not expect the changed squad to sit on their laurels however, and wants them to boost team morale ahead of the final Test on Saturday.

He told BBC Sport: “We’ve lost the last two games and this is a chance for us to lift the spirit in the camp. Our focus first and foremost is to play well as a team but we definitely need to get that win.”

Among the other starters for the game against the Crusaders is Sale Sharks fly-half Danny Cipriani, with Stephen Myler being left on the bench.

Cipriani has been in fine form for the Sharks in only his second season back in the English Premiership, after returning from a spell in Australia. The former Wasps man scored 143 points in 18 matches in the Aviva Premiership last season.

Yet, one surprise omission from the starting XV is Bath centre Kyle Eastmond, with some suggesting he could replace Billy Twelvetrees for the third and final Test at the weekend. Twelvetrees will miss the game with an ankle injury, but could not be the only one to miss the final match of series.

Saracens number ten Owen Farrell will have fitness tests on his knee, whilst his half-back partner Danny Care is struggling with the shoulder problem that forced him to miss the first Test. Luther Burrell is also a doubt for the match at the Waikato Stadium, suffering with a knock to his ankle.

While the All Blacks will be missing Smith, Malakai Fekitoa could take his place after starting from the bench in the first two Tests. Kieran Read could also return to his number eight, after recovering from a concussion, as Beauden Barrett looks set to start ahead of Aaron Cruden at fly-half for the hosts on Saturday.

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Topics:
England Rugby
Rugby Union
New Zeland Rugby
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