It has to be Slade – Baxter

Date published: July 30 2015

Exeter head coach Rob Baxter has urged England to pick Henry Slade ahead of Sam Burgess when it comes to the selection crunch in August.

Reports suggest that Stuart Lancaster will name the duo in midfield against France on August 15 in what is the pair's biggest opportunity to impress.

But one of them could miss the final 31-man cut when the England boss announces his World Cup squad, with Baxter knowing who he would pick.

"What England need in their backline you're seeing from Henry on a regular basis," Baxter told BBC Sport as the warm-up fixtures fast approach.

"We haven't really seen that much from Sam Burgess in the game environment as a midfield player yet."

According to Baxter, 26-year-old Burgess, who ended last season on the blindside flank for Bath, falls short of Slade in several areas of back-play.

"If you talk about midfield, for me it has to be Henry Slade," he added.

"He's got great qualities in the way he can pass, the way he can kick, the way he can distribute and he's very strong defensively.

"In really tough, really tight international games, one of the most crucial things you need to have in your armoury is players that can make very good pass, kick and run decisions – because near enough every game comes down to two or three crucial moments when someone makes a good decision or someone makes a bad decision.

"If you talk about in the middle of the park, who's going to have the full armoury, Henry's always going to win that battle."