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VIDEO – We must start on front foot says Cole

08 February 2013

  • Dan Cole identifies strong start key to success on Sunday
  • "We target the scrum and look forward to the battle there" – Cole

Prop Dan Cole starts against Ireland on Sunday knowing that silencing the home crowd with blistering opening period is vital to England's chances of victory.

The England pack dominated last year's encounter, with the Irish scrum capitulating under sustained pressure from their opposite numbers and the set-piece domination yielding a penalty try.

Cole, who has only missed one of England's last 36 Tests, said: "Last year, we were able to get the advantage and we scored a lot of points off the scrum but I think they'll have learnt their lesson. They obviously know we target that area so they'll up their game there, and we look forward to the battle."

Cole is one of just five remaining starters from the corresponding Dublin fixture in 2011, when the home side built up a head of steam to end England's Grand Slam hopes but rather than looking back at that and the contrast of last year's 30-9 Twickenham victory, he and his team mates are focusing solely on the present.

"You look forward to playing the game, not looking back at history, because when you look back at history where do you stop? You just try and focus on this game and the team we've got and take the momentum we had from Scotland into this game.

Dan Cole

Photo: Getty Images

"I think we take an edge but they will obviously look at the scrum because we will target that area, same as we always do. Two years ago in Ireland, in the first scrum of the game, they got a penalty so we are wary of the threat they pose, but we do want that kind of dominance because obviously that makes life a lot easier."

Speaking about what to expect come 3pm on Sunday, the Leicester Tigers man said: "They're playing at home in front of a full crowd, they'll come out firing, they always do. You look at them against Wales last week and even though they were away, they built up a big lead.

"Obviously that was what they did to us in Dublin a couple of years ago, so we've got to be wary of that threat and start better, like we did against Scotland, for the first couple of minutes and try and put ourselves on the front foot as opposed to being on the back foot."

With a slight nod to recent history at least, in terms of taking the lessons of 2011 and putting them to use, Cole added: "I think they just played with an intensity that we couldn't match. We didn't come out of the game and play. Ireland had the choke tackle, turned the ball over, forced over the scrum. They did that a couple of times and they just took all our energy and turned it into positive energy for them. We're more aware of that this time around."