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Cole promptly dismantled the Wallabies’ scrum that June, and is more than halfway to vindicating Corry’s prediction. Despite serious neck surgery in 2014, he has amassed 72 Test caps – including three for the British and Irish Lions. Eddie Jones has started him in each of his 13 internationals to date. Saturday evening’s renewal of Le Crunch will be the 20th consecutive England match in which Cole has worn number three. Famously sparing with the label of ‘world-class’, Jones believes Cole has reached the cusp of that coveted bracket by maturing at set-piece and “scrummaging a lot straighter”. Another of Jones’ observations is that quiet diligence is key to leadership. Pondering his own durability in such an abrasive position, Cole agrees. “It’s a learning process,” he adds. “And I’ve probably learned as much in the past year from Eddie Jones than I ever have previously. You need to take an interest in your body, because your body is all you have in rugby. It’s… not a weapon, but it’s all you have. If you lose it, you can’t play. “As a front-rower, you’re going to be tired. You’re going to feel battered. If you learn to care about that, you’ll work on your flexibility and mobility, rest, do your stretches and figure out what works for you. “I’d like to think that I’m a better player now – it might not be the case – than I was

last year because of the knowledge I’ve picked up.” Boiled down crudely, scrummaging at tighthead amounts to wrestling against two 115kg humans simultaneously – spearheading the shove of seven other forwards as the opposition loosehead tries to burrow underneath you. All the while, a referee and a pair of touch judges scrutinise the intricacies of your bind and body position as you attempt to hold firm. The temptation is for onlookers to judge the contest in black and white terms, to herald a definitive winner and loser – or a cheat and a victim. The truth is, with so many moving parts, the scrum battle usually undulates across 80 minutes. Look at England’s 27-14 win over Argentina in November. Cole received a yellow card for repeated infringements on the stroke of half-time before returning to tame the Pumas in the second period. “You’ve got to be mentally resilient, to back yourself,” Cole says. “With England, you’ve got the opportunity because the coaches have picked you. You trust in them. As long as your teammates respect you and it’s a two-way thing, as long as you’re doing what the coaches are asking of you, that’s all that really matters. “You can come under fire for this, this and this, but you have to look at what you can do better and start with yourself. Often you’ll watch a video back and there will

be three possible interpretations of what’s going on. If you’re on the wrong end of one of those, you take it on the chin. “Everyone is entitled to an opinion, but you just have to block it out. You should trust the opinion of Eddie Jones and Steve Borthwick over, with due respect, a person writing an article. No offence.” Lifting his palm, Cole laughs at the double apology, reinforcing his phlegmatic nature. Since the birth of twin sons Henry and Ralph six months ago, the mantra ‘only bad moments, never bad days’ resonates with him. Sulking after a hard day does not feel appropriate with two baby boys to care for, not that perspective is ever a problem at Leicester.

Life Lessons from Leicester

Tom Collett’s name might be unfamiliar even to ardent fans. The mobile, skilful hooker starred for Tigers Academy teams and England age-groups alongside Courtney Lawes and Joe Marler. In 2007 he helped overturn an Ireland Schools side captained by Peter O’Mahony. A couple of years later, Collett was forced to retire because of nerve damage caused by a dislocated shoulder. But, under Tigers’ guidance, he stayed in rugby and is now their strength and conditioning coach. Collett was best man at Cole’s wedding to wife Isobel in August 2015. According to k

“i’m not the fLashiest carrier or passer, but there is stuff i do weLL that i pride myseLf on, whether that’s pushing in the scrum, Lineout Lifting, mauLing or cLear-outs”

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Profile for Sport Magazine

Issue 484  

The party's over - for Sport magazine, and for Leicester City. Their fleet-footed striker Jamie Vardy tells us about life after the miracle,...

Issue 484  

The party's over - for Sport magazine, and for Leicester City. Their fleet-footed striker Jamie Vardy tells us about life after the miracle,...

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