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Rugby World Cup 2019: Henry Slade & Manu Tuilagi bond key to England success

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By Tom Fordyce
Chief sports author in Sapporo, Japan
Centre Henry Slade maintains his bond with all midfield partner Manu Tuilagi can fire England to World Cup success.
When selected against Tonga on Sunday slade is best fit to start due to announce his group on Friday.
«Manu is indeed good to play with — how we can use him to get is within the gain-line or maybe to run decoy traces is a huge weapon,» Slade said.
«It gives me a great deal of time to play from the back of that and elsewhere.»
He added:»We now have very different strengths and really different weaknesses, and that I think we complement each other and cover each other’s weaknesses.»
Jones used Tuilagi and Slade jointly during the Six Nations outside Owen Farrell in fly-half, having preferred to use Farrell at inside-centre and George Ford at 10.
And Slade says how much the two enjoy each other’s company off the pitch has boosted his on-field understanding together with all the 28-year-old Tuilagi.
He told BBC Radio 5 Live:»We have always got on really well ever since we’ve known each other.
«We were in camps together for a few years but not actually regularly — he had been constantly athletic when I was hurt or I was match and he had been injured.
«But we’ve always caught. I went to Dubai after the Six Nations — that I was out there using Jack Nowell and Ellis Genge, thus we have a couple of days with him also Manu was out there with his wife and kid.
«I feel as I get on really well with him, and that bond off the pitch will play a big role on it.
«It may take time learning how to play with each other, but he and I’ve managed to pick this up pretty quick.
«Manu’s in quite good form. He has through the entire of this pre-season, that has been a real grind although tough, but quite great.
«He looks like he is hungry to perform well. I’m excited to see what he can.»
England travelled north from sub-tropical Miyazaki in the north on Wednesday, conditions at the 12 degrees cooler than they had been in the southern island of Kyushu, the wet, fresh weather on coming a whole lot reminiscent of autumn straight home.
While Mako Vunipola and Jack Nowell are still on track for a return from injury later in the group phase, short-term injury doubts back-row forward Mark Wilson along with winger Joe Cokanasiga have returned into fuller coaching.
Coach Eddie Jones has so far kept the players from the dark regarding his selection plans for Sunday, the brief turnaround before England game against the USA suggesting he will look at his choices before the stiffer evaluations of France and Argentina.
Slade said:»You can never really tell with Eddie. We want to try various combinations in training, and we have so many players, especially in midfield.
«What is great about our midfield choices is that everybody’s got different strengths, so all of the coaches wish to decide on, they’ve got an choice to choose.
«We all could continue to spurring each other on as gamers, forcing each other to keep improving.»
Slade was a regular alongside Tuilagi during England’s Six Nations campaign earlier this year, scoring his international try in the 32-20 win over Ireland in Dublin.
He touched a week later again against France, that burgeoning centre partnership one of the highlights for England in a campaign that decelerated with defeat by Wales at Cardiff and that extraordinary draw against Scotland.
A knee injury kept the from all four of England’s warm-up matches for this World Cup, but that he is prepared to reignite that explosive midfield mix after coaching since coming in Japan.
He said:»The knee’s great — I have had a few weeks now to rehabilitation and get it improved.
«I am feeling more and more convinced each day, and hopefully I get the chance to try it out at the weekend.
«Originally I was worried. You do not understand until you get your scan results back, what it could be . It may have been a whole lot worse, so it was a massive relief»
Four years ago Slade turned into a last-minute bolter to the squad, impressing against France in the warm-up but left out of match-day action until the last group game against Uruguay, when England had gone out of Stuart Lancaster.
«Last World Cup I was just over the moon to be selected,» he said.
«I had no expectations going in that camp, but this time that I’ve had rather a great deal of excellent game-time, and feel a true part of the squad.
«I have had a massive drive in the past World Cup to needing to play with a much bigger part in such a one.
«I feel as the past Six Nations proved to be a real step in the perfect direction for me. Before that, possibly not having played too as I could have for 19, I had been very disappointed.
«Hopefully when I get the opportunity I can keep progressing.»
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