England named a team of largely fringe players to face the Crusaders, with coach Stuart Lancaster looking to ensure all his touring party receive game-time in New Zealand.
Slater will captain a starting XV against the seven-time Super Rugby champions which features only one player, flank James Haskell, who has started a Test during the New Zealand tour.
Slater is one of four senior England debutants – along with Northampton Saints prop Alex Waller, Gloucester centre Henry Trinder and Bath wing Anthony Watson.
Christchurch-born Michael Paterson, a former Crusader, is named on the replacements’ bench.
“Ed is a natural leader who has captained Leicester well and I am sure he will do the same with this England side,” the England coach said.
While Lancaster insisted “we are treating this as like an additional Test”, the selection indicates he is aiming to develop depth in his squad for the 2015 World Cup while retaining his first-choice players for the final Test in Hamilton on Saturday.
“This is a really important match for us in terms of the development of our squad,” Lancaster said
“We wanted this game to test ourselves against a top Super Rugby side and with a large squad out here we are hoping to create opportunities for everyone to lay down a marker on this tour.
“We can see by how they have trained that they can’t wait to pull on an England shirt.”
Crusaders coach Todd Blackadder said the city was “buzzing” to be hosting England, who were due to be based in Christchurch during the 2011 World Cup but had to relocate after the city’s main ground was destroyed in the quake.
“Local rugby fans were gutted when the earthquakes took away our opportunity to host England at the last Rugby World Cup, so it is fantastic to have the chance to host them now,” he said.
“We know the England team particularly wanted to make the effort to play in Christchurch while they were here and we are very grateful for that.”
England: 15 Alex Goode, 14 Ben Foden, 13 Henry Trinder, 12 Brad Barritt, 11 Anthony Watson, 10 Danny Cipriani, 9 Lee Dickson, 8 Tom Johnson, 7 Matt Kvesic, 6 James Haskell, 5 Dave Attwood, 4 Ed Slater (captain), 3 Henry Thomas, 2 Joe Gray, 1 Alex Waller.
Replacements: 16 David Ward, 17 Nathan Catt, 18 Kyle Sinckler, 19 Michael Paterson, 20 Richard Wigglesworth, 21 Stephen Myler, 22 Jonny May, 23 Chris Pennell.