Dan Cole to use experience to help England newcomers in South Africa


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The Independent Online

England prop Dan Cole is ready to take on the burden of extra responsibility despite still feeling a novice in international terms.

The highly-regarded Leicester forward, who has established himself as England's first-choice tighthead over the past two years, will be at the forefront of the action as the three-Test series in South Africa begins on Saturday.

In a squad which includes 13 uncapped players, the 25-year-old now finds himself as one of the more experienced men after 28 appearances and he feels a duty to set an example to the newcomers.

Cole said: "You do feel slightly older when you look around and see a lot of younger guys.

"But in the front row positions, players like Dylan Hartley, myself and Lee Mears, we are the senior guys. You have got to take that on.

"The tighthead's job is scrummage and you have to lead that area of the field.

"I wouldn't say I was established or experienced, but there is more responsibility."

Cole's clash with the man known as 'The Beast', the Springboks loosehead Tendai Mtawarira, will be one of the most eagerly-anticipated aspects of the first Test in Durban.

South Africa, despite the loss of a number of forwards through retirement or injury, remain a formidable force up front and Cole has no doubt he is in for a tough workout.

Cole, who played under Springboks coach Heyneke Meyer during the South African's brief spell at Welford Road, said: "When you come over here that is what you expect.

"Heyneke has spoken to all his players before now and the South Africans will play to their strengths, which are physical.

"There is not a lot of deception in the game like in Australia or New Zealand, they will take it to you.

"Physicality is the strength of the South African game, no doubt about it.

"I am sure Heyneke will have some things up his sleeve, but from his time at Leicester we were fairly direct. That is what we expect."

Another member of the pack ready to take on the challenge is lock Geoff Parling, who impressed in a revamped England side during the RBS 6 Nations earlier this year.

The 28-year-old, a Leicester team-mate of Cole's, is hopeful of being in the side to be announced by head coach Stuart Lancaster tomorrow.

Parling insists he will not shirk responsibility or hide behind excuses, particularly in the key area of the lineout.

He said: "You can say if someone is not throwing it well or someone is not doing their job properly it is their fault but I think, if I am calling it, that is my responsibility really.

"We know the strengths of the South African game.

"Ideally we would win the ball in the air first - that would be the perfect situation - but we know we have got to front up as a pack.

"If we sit back and let the South Africans get that rolling maul going it could be very difficult to stop after that.

"But we can be direct in our game and we can maul."

England are hoping to maintain momentum after emerging from the disaster of last autumn's World Cup campaign with a positive showing in the Six Nations.

New captain Chris Robshaw proved himself a strong leader in that championship and then went on to provide the inspiration for Harlequins' Aviva Premiership success.

Parling said: "He is a good player but first and foremost he is a good bloke, and that is what I would want from a captain.

"Then you want someone to keep going and going and lead from the front and that is what he does.

"But there are also a lot of other leaders in the pack."