Rugby Union

Stuart Lancaster must choose Slade over Burgess

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It seems to be the one remaining issue for Stuart Lancaster to deal with before he can name his full 30-man World Cup squad.

Whereas most of the squad appears to pick itself, Lancaster must seemingly decide between young Exeter Chiefs utility player Henry Slade and ex-rugby league convert Sam Burgess to take the final place in England's midfield options .

While Burgess undoubtedly offers something England have arguably lacked in recent times, an inside centre who can break through tackles and defend fantastically, Lancaster simply has to go with Slade.

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The youngster has come from nowhere, only really establishing himself in the Exeter Chiefs back line in the last two years, and is viewed by many as the outside choice for the one remaining centre position. 

A fly-half by trade, many saw Slade's initial inclusion in the training squad as 'one for the future,' and that it would simply provide him with great experience as the country look towards the 2019 tournament.

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However Slade furthered his claims with an outstanding performance in the 19-14 victory over France, a game in which he and Burgess were viewed as being in a straight shootout. Slade offers another kicking option, often able to knock penalties over from his own half, and the benefit of having a left-footed playmaker at inside or outside centre would provide England with creativity throughout the back line.

Slade's eye for a pass and strength in defence are also key facets of the game, and while many will back the sheer size of Burgess as ample reason for his inclusion, his temperament and lack of understanding of rugby union could go against him.

In an ideal world, both Slade and Burgess would be taking their places in the centre against Fiji at Twickenham on September 18, but if it is to be a straight pick between the two, it has to be Slade who gets the nod. 

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Topics:
Rugby Union
England Rugby
IRB Rugby World Cup

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