Rowntree backs Cole to thrive for England

England scrum coach Graham Rowntree is convinced rookie prop Dan Cole can handle being thrown in at the deep end against Italy's renowned pack of scrummagers.

Cole will make his full Test debut at the Stadio Flaminio on Sunday after just 14 Guinness Premiership starts for Leicester and only a year after being sent out on loan to first division Nottingham.



The 19 stone tighthead forced his way into the England reckoning after a series of destructive performances for the Tigers this season, most notably against Clermont Auvergne and Wasps.



The 22-year-old has replaced David Wilson, who is struggling with a shoulder injury, in the England side for their Valentine's Day showdown with the Azzurri.



There will be nothing romantic about packing down against an Italian front row propped by Cole's Leicester mentor Martin Castrogiovanni and Salvatore Perugini.



But Rowntree, who has worked with Cole since his days in the Leicester academy, backed him to shine in Rome.



"We understand that at his age he is still a work in progress," said Rowntree.



"It doesn't get much tougher for a first start but we wouldn't put him in there if we didn't have confidence in him to handle it.



"His temperament is his strength; he is tough but he doesn't go around banging his chest.



"That sort of bravado is not in him but he's tough.



"He did a great job coming on against Wales last week and I have every confidence in him."



Cole has been on Rowntree's radar for some time but he publicly announced his extraordinary potential with two seismic performances either side of Christmas.



In Leicester's Heineken Cup victory over Clermont Auvergne on December 21, Cole dismantled France international loose-head Lionel Faure.



Less than a month later he repeated the trick, this time against his new England team-mate Tim Payne as Leicester's pack destroyed Wasps.



England's forwards coach John Wells - a former Leicester player like Rowntree and England boss Martin Johnson - believes the ultra-competitive Welford Road environment is doing Cole the world of good.



"He has the core attributes you look for in a prop - excellent scrummaging, a good empathy with the lineout and the area that has greatly impressed us this season has been his mobility and his fitness," said Wells.



"He is working in a great environment at Leicester. He has acted as back-up to Castro and Julian White and probably put such a marker down that when it comes to selection decisions at the club he will be in a strong position."



Riki Flutey returned to the side in place of Toby Flood after recovering from a dead leg which ruled him out of England's 30-17 victory over Wales last weekend.



Meanwhile, Johnson played down fears that a bug was sweeping through the camp and he insisted Steve Borthwick and Simon Shaw, who have both been laid low this week, will be fit to play on Sunday.



Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services

Day In a Page

The difference between America and Israel? There isn’t one

The difference between America and Israel? There isn’t one

Netanyahu knows he can get away with anything in America, says Robert Fisk
Families clubbing together to build their own affordable accommodation

Do It Yourself approach to securing a new house

Community land trusts marking a new trend for taking the initiative away from developers
Head of WWF UK: We didn’t send Cameron to the Arctic to see green ideas freeze

David Nussbaum: We didn’t send Cameron to the Arctic to see green ideas freeze

The head of WWF UK remains sanguine despite the Government’s failure to live up to its pledges on the environment
Author Kazuo Ishiguro on being inspired by shoot-outs and samurai

Author Kazuo Ishiguro on being inspired by shoot-outs and samurai

Set in a mythologised 5th-century Britain, ‘The Buried Giant’ is a strange beast
With money, corruption and drugs, this monk fears Buddhism in Thailand is a ‘poisoned fruit’

Money, corruption and drugs

The monk who fears Buddhism in Thailand is a ‘poisoned fruit’
America's first slavery museum established at Django Unchained plantation - 150 years after slavery outlawed

150 years after it was outlawed...

... America's first slavery museum is established in Louisiana
Kelly Clarkson: How I snubbed Simon Cowell and become a Grammy-winning superstar

Kelly Clarkson: How I snubbed Simon Cowell and become a Grammy-winning superstar

The first 'American Idol' winner on how she manages to remain her own woman – Jane Austen fascination and all
Tony Oursler on exploring our uneasy relationship with technology with his new show

You won't believe your eyes

Tony Oursler's new show explores our uneasy relationship with technology. He's one of a growing number of artists with that preoccupation
Ian Herbert: Peter Moores must go. He should never have been brought back to fail again

Moores must go. He should never have been brought back to fail again

The England coach leaves players to find solutions - which makes you wonder where he adds value, says Ian Herbert
War with Isis: Fears that the looming battle for Mosul will unleash 'a million refugees'

The battle for Mosul will unleash 'a million refugees'

Aid agencies prepare for vast exodus following planned Iraqi offensive against the Isis-held city, reports Patrick Cockburn
Yvette Cooper: We can't lose the election. There's too much on the line

Yvette Cooper: We can't lose the election. There's too much on the line

The shadow Home Secretary on fighting radical Islam, protecting children, and why anyone in Labour who's thinking beyond May must 'sort themselves out'
A bad week for the Greens: Leader Natalie Bennett's 'car crash' radio interview is followed by Brighton council's failure to set a budget due to infighting

It's not easy being Green

After a bad week in which its leader had a public meltdown and its only city council couldn't agree on a budget vote, what next for the alternative party? It's over to Caroline Lucas to find out
Gorillas nearly missed: BBC producers didn't want to broadcast Sir David Attenborough's famed Rwandan encounter

Gorillas nearly missed

BBC producers didn't want to broadcast Sir David Attenborough's famed Rwandan encounter
Downton Abbey effect sees impoverished Italian nobles inspired to open their doors to paying guests for up to €650 a night

The Downton Abbey effect

Impoverished Italian nobles are opening their doors to paying guests, inspired by the TV drama
China's wild panda numbers have increased by 17% since 2003, new census reveals

China's wild panda numbers on the up

New census reveals 17% since 2003