England must pick Henry Slade over Sam Burgess - Rob Baxter

By Brent PilnickBBC Sport
Henry Slade
Henry Slade has played for England against the Barbarians, but has yet to win a Test cap

Henry Slade should be picked ahead of Sam Burgess at centre for England, according to Exeter coach Rob Baxter.

England boss Stuart Lancaster has been examining playing the former rugby league star in his midfield, possibly at the expense of Chiefs back Slade.

"What England need in their backline you're seeing from Henry on a regular basis," Baxter told BBC Sport.

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

Henry Slade v Sam Burgess
Henry SladeSam Burgess
CredentialsPlayed 42 Premiership games for Exeter, England U20 World Cup winner, Premiership Player of the Month in February 2015, Premiership Young Player of the SeasonPlayed 16 Premiership games for Bath. 13 England rugby league caps, three years at Bradford Bulls, four years at South Sydney Rabbitohs, where he won 2014 NRL title
Premiership points189 (seven tries, 36 penalties, 23 conversions)20 (four tries)
Full England rugby union caps00

Burgess, 26, joined Bath from South Sydney Rabbitohs last year and, having started off with the Blue, Black and Whites playing at centre, he spent the last couple of months of the 2014-15 campaign in the back row.

Meanwhile, 22-year-old Slade has spent his entire career at fly-half and centre and was named Premiership Young Player of the Season in May.

"If you talk about midfield, for me it has to be Henry Slade," said Baxter, who coached England's forwards during their tour to Argentina two years ago.

"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."