- Scottish form won't account for much says Cole
- Physicality will be a main focus for the Scots
Prop Dan Cole has warned that England should not write off Scotland ahead of their Calcutta Cup clash on Saturday and says that previous form ahead of the classic encounter should not account for much.
The 25-year-old has been named in the starting line-up by head coach Stuart Lancaster and will contest his fifth Calcutta Cup on Saturday.
Cole was a favoured option in the front row during the QBE Autumn Internationals, starting all four matches against the Southern Hemisphere, and was a key cog in England’s historic victory over New Zealand after helping dismantle the world’s most revered pack.
Scotland had contrasting fortunes throughout the autumn, losing all three of their games, which eventually led to Andy Robinson standing down as coach. Australian Scott Johnson and former Gloucester head coach Dean Ryan are the team’s interim coaches for the RBS 6 Nations.
Historically, though, the rivalry between England and Scotland has not failed to produce close encounters, with England beating the Scots 13-6 last year. In the 2011 World Cup England won 16-12 and back in 2010 the two teams drew 15-15. Cole says Scotland’s form from the autumn will not stop them pushing as hard as ever for a win.
“Often the form guide going into this fixture doesn’t mean a lot because the teams do different things,” said Cole. “Every time I have played them [Scotland] they raise their game. The week before they may not look the greatest but against England they put in the performance of the tournament.
“I think it’s just the history of the whole thing, the history of the fixtures and the two nations, you can find a lot of external motivation if you look hard enough for this game, not so much in the rugby but all the national stuff. Scotland come to England a lot of the time and are written off beforehand, so they put in a performance that puts everybody wrong. We will go out and do what we have got to do.”
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The team named by Johnson is set to take England on up front with the likes of Jim Hamilton, Johnnie Beattie, Richie Gray and Kelly Brown all featuring. Physicality at the breakdown and at the set piece is one of the areas that Scotland has focused on in the past and Cole is expecting a brutal clash up front.
“Every time I have played against Scotland it has been a fair old brawl in the forward pack and at the set piece,” he said. “They have got big men who want to scrummage, maul and brawl. Normally they are fairly tight affairs so you look for any upper hand you can get.
“You think they would play a fairly forward dominated game. They have some fairly abrasive players in that team. They have big runners and big guys and they try and use that physicality against us in the back line but we understand that and we have got to be on our game to stop that and play the game that we want to play.”
The addition of Dean Ryan to Scotland’s coaching staff has been a main talking point ahead of the match on Saturday. As a former coach in the Aviva Premiership, Ryan has worked extensively within English rugby and recently has been drafted in by Sky Sports as a match analyst. Cole agrees that Ryan is a good addition to the Scottish set-up but says the England team will stick to their game plan.
“He will give them some insight and it will give them an advantage in comparison to not having him. He is in the game, he speaks and looks at tapes daily of teams and knows the players as well, so he will add something to them but in the same time we analyse players in the Premiership and in the European Cup, so the teams know each other fairly well.”