sport

Slater to captain England

Uncapped Leicester second row Ed Slater will captain England in Tuesday's fixture against the Crusaders, with Danny Cipriani starting at fly-half.

Cipriani, who won his eighth cap in the 20-15 first Test defeat by the All Blacks at Eden Park, is one of 11 players with Test experience in the starting XV.

In a vote of confidence in the Sale playmaker, he keeps Stephen Myler on the bench despite having been behind his Northampton rival in the pecking order before departing for New Zealand.

England have named an experienced backline for their only midweek fixture of the tour, anchored by inside centre Brad Barritt.

The Saracens back links up with Henry Trinder in midfield, with Alex Goode at full-back and Ben Foden on the right wing.

Bath rookie Anthony Watson, who alongside Trinder is the only uncapped player in the backline, has been given a start on the left wing with Lee Dickson at scrum-half.

Slater's lack of Test experience has not prevented him from being asked to lead the team with Alex Waller, who scored the Aviva Premiership title-winning try for Northampton, named at loosehead.

The presence of Dave Attwood and James Haskell in the second and back rows adds beef to the pack, while Matt Kvesic has a chance to claw back some of the ground lost on Chris Robshaw at openside.

"This is a really important match for us in terms of the development of our squad," England head coach Stuart Lancaster said.

"We wanted this game to test ourselves against a top Super 15 side and, with a large squad out here, we are hoping to create opportunities for everyone to lay down a marker on this tour.

"Ed is a natural leader who has captained Leicester well, and I'm sure he will do the same with this England side.

"We are treating this as an additional Test, and I know the Crusaders will be highly motivated to put in a good performance on the back of their Super 15 form."

Slater is understandably delighted to have been handed the reins.

"This is a big opportunity and Stuart has spoken about lifting the spirit," said Slater.

"We're under no illusions about what's happened - we've lost the last two games and this is a chance for us to lift the spirit in the camp.

"We've been close in the last two Test games and guys are really eager to make their mark in this game.

"Our focus first and foremost is to play well as a team, but we definitely need to get that win."

England forwards coach Graham Rowntree added: "We have a competitive squad and a big squad and that's the reason we've brought so many guys - to have a look at them in training and to play in this game.

"People like Ed have been excellent to work with - they've been patient and this is their big stage.

"We haven't yet finalised things for the final Test, so there is a lot to play for."

England: 15 Goode, 14 Foden, 13 Trinder, 12 Barritt, 11 Watson, 10 Cipriani, 9 Dickson, 1 Waller, 2 Gray, 3 Thomas, 4 Slater (capt), 5 Attwood, 6 Haskell, 7 Kvesic, 8 Johnson.

Replacements: 16 Ward, 17 Catt, 18 Sinckler, 19 Paterson, 20 Wigglesworth, 21 Myler, 22 May, 23 Pennell.