Henry backs Slade to shine
October 6, 2011
New Zealand flyhalf Colin Slade, seen in action against Canada, has been given public backing by head coach Graham Henry © Getty Images
New Zealand head coach Graham Henry has backed Colin Slade to step up and fill the void left by the injured Dan Carter's in Sunday's Rugby World Cup quarter-final with Argentina.
Slade was selected to continue at fly-half following Carter's tournament-ending groin injury, in a side showing six changes and one positional switch from the 79-15 defeat of Canada last weekend.
Much has been made of the loss of Carter - the world's leading playmaker - as the host nation wonders if their 24-year wait for World Cup glory will come to an end on home soil on October 23. But Henry is confident Slade can step up to the mark, starting when he wins his 10th cap against the Pumas on Sunday.
Henry said: "I've been pleased with him - I think he's getting better. He's getting more comfortable in the group. He's obviously the navigator of the team playing at 10, he's got to run the ship.
"And that's a big ask when he's playing with guys who have played 100 Test matches and 75 Test matches and so on and he's played 10 at most. It's a big ask for him, but he's getting more comfortable, he's enjoying the environment - I think he'll play well."
© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.
With just two rounds left in the regular season, we look at the prospects of the teams taking part in the Championship play-offs
Joe Simpson talks to Charlie Morgan about loss, Wasps and being England's game-breaker
It is 100 years this week since the last international match played in Europe before the outbreak of World War One. Rewind remembers the fixture's longest-living survivor
Red cards, uncontested scrums, end-of-season wobbles and schoolboy errors - the Monday Maul looks back over the weekend's talking points