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Where Warren Gatland's Wales are poised to do the most damage

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'He went Monday': The Leicester verdict on Cole's England recall

By Liam Heagney
(Photo by David Rogers/Getty Images)

New Leicester boss Richard Wigglesworth has confirmed that Dan Cole is back in the England mix, the seasoned tighthead attending a conditioning camp at the start of this week. It had been rumoured last week that the 35-year-old front-rower was in contention for Guinness Six Nations squad selection now that Steve Borthwick had taken charge following the dismissal of Eddie Jones.

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Cole hasn’t been capped by England since coming off the bench in the early stages of the 2019 World Cup final defeat to South Africa, but he was in sumptuous form last term when helping Borthwick’s Leicester to Gallagher Premiership glory and what he has to offer had now taken him back into the England fold.

No squad list was officially published by the RFU for the initial England gathering under Borthwick. However, asked about the 95-cap Cole at Thursday afternoon’s Leicester media briefing ahead of their match on Saturday at Newcastle, Wigglesworth revealed that the veteran prop had indeed been back involved at the England fitness camp ahead of the January 16 selection by Borthwick of his Six Nations squad.

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“He did (go to England camp). He went on Monday to the testing they did, which I am sure he thoroughly enjoyed,” said Wigglesworth with a chuckle.

“He is great for us, a Leicester Tigers legend, just played his 300th game for us. You’d have to ask Dan what it means (to get back involved with England). Someone who has played that many Tests for England knows exactly what it means to play for England far better than I could.

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“My view on him is he is essential to Leicester Tigers, a top, top-class tighthead prop who churns out performances week after week, so he is integral to what we do and he has been awesome for me the first couple of weeks (in charge).”

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Wigglesworth added that there hadn’t been much conversation yet between him and Borthwick since his former club boss exited Leicester last month to take charge of England. “I have not really spoken to him in that capacity. I have had a couple of short conversations with him. He is a busy man, so a couple of short conversations with him. Picked his brains around a couple of things.

“He was the one that brought me to the club. He has been the guy that has had a massive influence on me as the coach and he obviously had a huge influence at this club, so I just picked his brain around a couple of things. He has been great.”

Wigglesworth also saluted this week’s return to the England scene of George Ford, even though the out-half has yet to debut for Sale due to the injury he suffered in the first half of the Leicester title win over Saracens last June at Twickenham.

Ford was axed by Jones at the end of the 2021 Six Nations but an injury to Owen Farrell resulted in him providing bench cover to Marcus Smith during last year’s tournament. “George has got loads of rugby left in him,” reckoned the new Leicester boss.

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“A top quality player for us, I loved working with him, really good relationship with him. I know how smart he is. I’m not surprised (he is back) but he won’t be the only change with it. That’s what happens when the England coach changes, the players change.”

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