Belfast Telegraph

Saturday 20 September 2014

Cole wants to be number one

Dan Cole

Dan Cole is already England's number one tight-head prop and he has the chance against Italy on Saturday to prove he should also be top of Leicester's pecking order.

The 23-year-old finds that path blocked by cult hero Martin Castrogiovanni, the titanic Italian who recently rejected a lucrative move to France to remain a Tiger. Cole learned his trade under Castrogiovanni but now wants to be the main man - and he will have a point to prove this weekend, in what is expected to be a ferocious front-row battle.

"There is a pecking order in my eyes and I am not at number one. To get there means being better than Castro," Cole said.

"At Leicester your main job is to scrummage. Number one is the scrum, number two is the lineout lift. That is the mentality so in that regard we are similar. He is probably a better ball carrier than me around the field and has more involvement's around the field.

"I have to look at that but without compromising what has got me here (with England), which is my set-piece work. You can always do more as a player but that is something to work on."

Cole relishes his competition - and friendship - with Castrogiovanni.

Neither man gives an inch in training with Leicester and the same can be expected in Saturday's RBS 6 Nations showdown but they will share a beer afterwards. Despite his own personal ambitions, Cole would not have wanted to see the 19-stone, long-haired behemoth leave Welford Road in the summer.

"You don't want it handed to you on a plate. You enjoy the graft and you are improving. You can't just be complacent. If you are number one or not being pushed you might fall away," Cole said.

"We are pushing each other which is raising the level for the club and at international level. No-one wants to give an inch (in training) so a lot of scrums go down. That is where you learn.

"It works alright here with England. I have been picked for the last 12 games. You try your hardest every week. You bust your balls and give 100% whenever you are playing for England."

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