England centre Henry Slade says watching New Zealand dismantle Australia to retain the Bledisloe Cup worked as the perfect inspiration ahead of his international bow against France. The outside centre produced a fine display in the 19-14 win at Twickenham to force his way into contention for selection for the World Cup in September.
The 22-year-old had earlier played the role of spectator as the All Blacks swept aside Australia with five tries to claim the Bledisloe Cup, as Richie McCaw won a world record 142nd international cap. Centres Ma'a Nonu and Conrad Smith both scored to enhance their status as the best midfield partnership in world rugby, standards which Slade is now trying to match.
"They were very impressive, to bounce back from last week [defeat in the Rugby Championship]," Slade said. "We have to get up to that standard, we've set the bar which is a good start. Their work rate, intensity and combinations and few things shape wise but otherwise I think we're on the right track.
"I get excited by challenges like that. You've got to keep plugging way and we've got few matches left before we start against Fiji [on 18 September] so we'll see what we can do."
Slade was one of four new caps blooded by Stuart Lancaster, and the only starter to escape a yellow card as Sam Burgess and Calum Clark were sin-binned in a damaging blow to their World Cup hopes. Amid the ill-discipline, a slick passage of play with Burgess and Jonny May which led to the second try for Anthony Watson saw Slade give Lancaster a selection dilemma ahead of the 31 August deadline.
"Playing with such a talented bunch of boys is something I have been dreaming of for a long time so for it to come true, I've been pinching myself all week," he added. First five minutes I thought I'd ease my way in but once that went by I blinked and the next half an hour went by and that just shows I really enjoyed it. I felt comfortable, at times it was a quick match.
"I was really pleased with how I went," he added. "There are a few things to iron out but that is the same with the whole team really with work rate and stuff. It is the first game of the season and there is plenty to work on.
"I tried to get my hands on the ball. When you're at number 10 you're involved quite a lot but when I've been at centre you have games when you don't touch the ball as much as I would like."