Henry Slade is a doubt for the climax to the England Guinness Six Nations campaign against Ireland on Saturday because of a lower leg problem. Slade sustained the calf injury in training on Monday and a decision on his availability for the round-five clash at the Aviva Stadium is expected on Tuesday.
The strides taken by England in attack during the last two games have brought out the best in the Exeter Chiefs man, who has forged an improving centre partnership with Owen Farrell.
England have called Harlequins back Joe Marchant into camp as cover for Slade, but if he fails to recover in time then Ollie Lawrence or Paolo Odogwu are most likely to benefit by filling the vacancy in midfield.
“The way Henry works off the ball is second to none. The way he puts himself in a position to attack and defend is brilliant,” said England skills coach Ed Robinson. “The way he sprints to chase kicks is phenomenal and that is a massive part of his game. He’s a big driver in that for us.
“Joe is a fantastic player because of the way he works on and off the ball. His skill set on the ball and the way he supports are both excellent.”
? "We know that they’ll be physical as it’s a massive game." ?????????
— England Rugby (@EnglandRugby) March 16, 2021
Lawrence would be the frontrunner to fill the void if Slade is ruled out as he looks to add to the two appearances made during this Six Nations. The powerful Worcester centre started the opening weekend defeat by Scotland and was not seen again until Saturday’s impressive 23-20 victory over France at Twickenham where he made a nine-minute cameo appearance.
Odogwu was called into a senior England squad for the first time at the start of the Championship but the destructive Wasp outside back has yet to win his first cap. A left-field choice to replace Slade would be Elliot Daly, who has made way for Max Malins at full-back but has vast experience at outside centre, most notably for his former club Wasps where he made his name.
However, Daly has only filled the 13 jersey once for Eddie Jones with the majority of his international career taking place at 15 and on the wing. England rescued their Six Nations from disaster by toppling France in outstanding fashion, showing flair and resilience to dispatch a side who arrived at Twickenham as tournament favourites.
And although there is nothing at stake in Dublin apart from pride, Robinson insists there is a determination to take another step forward. “There’s a good feeling in camp because we feel like we performed well, but we also feel like we’re nowhere near our best. So there’s a real hunger and drive to get better every day to perform to our best,” Robinson said.
“We got really good go-forward with the forwards against France and we’d just like to be able to go and finish a few more of the opportunities off. We know Ireland will be well prepared for the game. And we know that they will be physical because it’s a massive game.”
— RugbyPass (@RugbyPass) March 12, 2021
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