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'He's a horrible person to run into if you're an attacker': Why Cowan-Dickie should keep his England place against Wales

By Liam Heagney

Trending on RugbyPass

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Guinness Six Nations round two against Italy on February 13 was a rare thing for England hooker Luke Cowan-Dickie. A first-ever start in the championship at the age of 27, a first Test start since Kobe in September 2019 and just his fourth start ever in a 28-cap Test career where he has largely played back-up to the preferred Jamie George. 

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Was the switch-up against the Italians – starting Cowan-Dickie with George held in reserve as a finisher – a sign of things to come in the England set-up under Eddie Jones or just a one-off in response to the opening round defeat to Scotland which resulted in the coach making five changes to his starting XV, four in the pack?

We’ll know more on Thursday at 11am when Jones unveils his team to take on Wales in round three of the Six Nations this Saturday. 

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A back-to-back selection in the No2 jersey for Cowan-Dickie would be massive and reigning Gallagher Premiership champions Exeter have their fingers crossed for some good news from England team HQ in London, not only for their hooker but also Jonny Hill and Henry Slade.

“Fantastic to see them all in starting line-ups together,” said Exeter boss Rob Baxter. “I will be honest with you, I thought Luke had started more games. When we saw it was only four I was a little surprised. I thought he had started a few more than that. It was nice to see him getting the start (against Italy) and nice to see him play well and getting a performance. You have just got to hope now he is right back in the reckoning to start the game this weekend. 

“Whether we [Exeter] start him or whether we sub him here he has always brought massive energy, an ability to break tackles, he is a horrible person to run into if you’re an attacker. You talk about guys who give you momentum and stop opposition momentum, that is what he is and that is why he has been a key player for us. 

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“He just makes things happen around him. It’s very rare you don’t see good things happen around him – whether that is breaking a tackle or he manages to hold his feet and the ball gets away in an offload, he gets off the line and he shuts down an attack with a quality low chop tackle. 

“That is just the kind of stuff he can bring and he is probably a better set-piece player than he gets credit for. I don’t know whether you would say it will take his game on by starting more games with England but it will give him a bit of confidence if he gets back that he is retaining that level of becoming a starter international player.

“It won’t do him any harm but I am not sure what it is going to develop because I don’t think there are too many areas of his game that need development to be playing international rugby. He is right there, he is on form and he adds something to a team when he plays. That is what he needs to be focusing on, he needs to be focusing on being Luke Cowan-Dickie.”

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'He's a horrible person to run into if you're an attacker': Why Cowan-Dickie should keep his England place against Wales

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