Parling: Competition is stepping up
Geoff Parling insists the competition within England's World Cup training squad has escalated as Friday's deadline for the second round of player cuts approaches.
Head coach Stuart Lancaster is to reduce the 46-man party that returned to Pennyhill Park on Sunday by eight or nine with the final 31 then having to be named by August 31.
Leicester second row Parling, speaking at England's official World Cup dinner in aid of All Schools, insists the proximity of the global showpiece has started to be felt this week.
"It hasn't got tenser because we always knew the squad would be cut down, but the rugby has got more competitive," he said
"There will be some tough decisions to make, but the lads are trying not to think about that and are focusing on doing the best they can to stay in the squad.
"This is probably the start of the World Cup in a way. There hasn't been much media to do, but that will grow and grow now. This is our first formal World Cup dinner.
"It was good to get away to Denver for our training camp, but we knew that once we got back it would really get going."
England play the first of their warm-up matches when France visit Twickenham on Saturday week and Parling welcomes the opportunity to swap training for playing.
"You can do all the conditioning in the world and it does give you a base, but it's about playing games. Mentally you need to be in game situations," he said.
"These matches are a chance to prove yourselves and you also want a bit of match fitness as well."