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Henry Slade is confident double act will hurt All Blacks

 

By Duncan Bech

Henry Slade is eager to continue his centre partnership with Ben Te'o when England end their four-year wait to face the All Blacks on Saturday.

The duo played together for the first time in last Saturday's 12-11 victory over the Springboks, with Te'o making his maiden appearance since May after recovering from thigh and calf injuries.

Their performances improved in tandem with England's fightback against South Africa, and they are expected to keep their places when Eddie Jones names his starting XV for New Zealand's visit to Twickenham.

"The partnership felt pretty good. It feels like we've got pretty good balance," said Slade ahead of today's team announcement.

"Ben and I both have different strengths which enable us to play together.

"Ben is an experienced guy who has been around, so he knows what it takes after some time off with injury to know how to get himself right. He played pretty well.

"He's a laid back kind of guy off the field and is a good squad member. He put in some big shots and those things lift the team and inspire the boys."

England have been given a clean bill of health ahead of Saturday's showdown with Steve Hansen's world champions.

Courtney Lawes (back), Owen Farrell (hip) and Manu Tuilagi (groin) trained on Wednesday morning with two full-bore sessions left in the week.

Among the areas being sharpened by England is the scrum, which fluctuated in quality against the Springboks and will need to improve for the All Blacks showdown.

"We started off really well and then dipped off," scrum coach Neal Hatley said. "We had a big scrum in the corner on their ball which got the penalty that enabled us to push ahead going into the final few minutes.

"But then we lost it again on the last scrum of the game. Consistency is going to be important and we're working hard on that.

"New Zealand have improved hugely at the scrum. Six of that pack work together for Canterbury and then work together for the All Blacks, so they have unbelievable consistency in terms of selection and experience."

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