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Henry Slade: 'The thing I like about both Joe and Marcus'

By Liam Heagney
(Photo by Jane Barlow/PA Images via Getty Images)

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Henry Slade has explained what he likes about starting for England with Marcus Smith positioned inside him at out-half and with Joe Marchant positioned outside him at outside centre. The Exeter midfielder has been named as his country’s starting No12 for the fourth consecutive game in the 2022 Guinness Six Nations. 

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Against Ireland on Saturday, he will be combining with starting half-back Smith for the fourth time this year while Marchant has been named as the England No13 for the second time in this championship having also been selected on the wing against Scotland and on the bench versus Wales.   

Set to turn 29 next weekend on the same day at England will finish their Six Nations away to France, the 46-cap Slade is very much the more seasoned player in this ten-twelve-13 combination as the 23-year-old Smith has just eight caps and the 25-year-old Marchant has ten caps heading into this weekend’s round four fixture.  

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Despite that inexperience on either side of him, England regular Slade has enjoyed the relationship he has built with an out-half who debited at Test level last July and a midfielder who first appeared in a 2019 World Cup warm-up friendly but has since been sparingly used by Eddie Jones until this season. 

“It is very much a three,” said Slade when asked to describe the dynamic that exists between the England No10 and the midfield. “As with Marcus, I have really enjoyed playing with Joe. He has got some top quality attributes to his game. He is one of the quickest guys you will ever see, a hell of an athlete, great in the air – he has got it all really. To play with him is really good.

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“The thing I like about both Joe and Marcus is we can have really honest chats and say what we want and no one gets offended, everyone listens to everyone and it is a really good relationship we have built over the last few months. I have known Joe for a fair while now, played a few times with him. I like what they are about and it feels good.  

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“Marcus is a top player, an unbelievable talent. I have really enjoyed playing with him. We have got a good relationship on and off the pitch, do a lot of stuff together off the pitch as well so we get on well. Before he started playing, he was in camp before so we have known each other for a while. 

“I just like his mindset and how he likes to attack a game and how he likes to play with the ball is great for someone like myself to get on the ball more as well which has been awesome. As I said, he is a top-quality talent himself but the way his mindset and how he wants to play is something I share with him and that is probably why we feel like we have clicked so well.

“If you have got the ball for a few phases, the ten and twelve tend to be fairly close to each other normally and we can be talking to each other without having to shout. When you are that close we can see what we are doing and where we are going and react off each other.

“That is what has been going pretty well. We have had points in games that have been really good and we have been having good sessions in training – we are always looking to push on.”

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