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Slade relieved injury isn't serious

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Slade's near-miss: When the injury happened last week it was a case of 'oh no, not now'

Despite his recent emergence as one of England’s key attacking weapons, Henry Slade feared his World Cup dream was over last week after damaging his left knee in training.

Confined to wearing a knee brace, the Exeter midfielder won’t be able to train fully for at least two weeks as England complete their remaining three-match warm-up schedule against Wales, Ireland and Italy before heading to Japan. 

However, Slade is relieved that he didn’t suffer the same fate as Wales out-half Gareth Anscombe, who was robbed of his place at the World Cup by the knee injury he suffered in the defeat to England last Sunday.

At 26, Slade is the youngest of England’s four centres in their 31-man squad. However, he would be the first midfield name written down on the teamsheet by coach Eddie Jones. 

His main rival for the key No13 role is Bath’s Jonathan Joseph, who impressed in his return from injury in Sunday’s win over the Welsh at Twickenham, while Piers Francis and Manu Tuilagi are fighting it out for the inside centre role.

(Continue reading below…)

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Slade said: “At the time it happened it was a case of ‘oh no, not now’. But I had the scan and it came back OK. It could have been a lot worse and I could have missed the tournament. 

“I have now got a couple more weeks with the knee. It happened in training and hopefully, those effects will be reversed. I will still be doing cardiovascular work. We have had a tough pre-season and injuries are just part of the sport. Thankfully, it’s not too bad.”

Slade was left frustrated and largely unused by former head coach Stuart Lancaster during the failed 2015 World Cup campaign that saw England crash out before the knockout stages despite being the host nation. 

The Exeter player had to wait until the final “dead rubber” pool match with Uruguay to get his chance in the tournament and not even a try in the 60-3 win could make up for being left largely on the sidelines during the campaign.

Memories of that tournament are now fuelling Slade’s desire to make an impact in Japan. “My overriding memory from 2015 is frustration. Particularly being in the squad and not getting to play a part until it was too late. Particularly as there was an injury to JJ (Jonathan Joseph) and I didn’t get a chance to play.

“You can learn from defeats but as a squad, we are in a much better place now compared to the 2015 World Cup and the boys feel genuinely confident with each other which is a big thing. 

“A lot of work has gone into our relationships off the pitch which is beneficial. Communication is really good and we have learnt a lot from the last World Cup. We are in a good place. You can never take anything for granted. Four years ago you may have wanted to be in this position of being picked again, but there is a lot of hard work needed to make it happen.

“I can’t remember how the selection was done four years ago, although it did go down to the wire. It’s nice to know early which allows the squad to continue to build relationships and bed in. That really helps on the pitch. 

“I’m really pleased to see JJ back because he has been out for so long with injury and we will be pushing each other, which brings the best out of both of us. This World Cup is a massive thing for the whole squad because no one will be playing every minute of every game. It will be a 31 man job to win the World Cup.”

WATCH: England skipper Owen Farrell talks to Nick Heath of RugbyPass at the official RWC squad announcement

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Slade's near-miss: When the injury happened last week it was a case of 'oh no, not now'