DAN COLE has been rewarded for rising to Eddie Jones’ challenge to address his weaknesses with the chance to revive his England career this weekend.
The Leicester prop is poised to win his 79th cap and first for nearly a year as England look to back up their superb win in Ireland against France on Sunday.
Cole’s hard work has seen him oust Harry Williams from the matchday 23 for the Twickenham date with Les Bleus.
Scrum coach Neal Hatley has revealed the 31-year-old’s comeback is reward for his determination to remain a tighthead option for his country.
‘Dan responded really well to being left out. He’s hit some of the best numbers we’ve seen from him in training,’ Hatley said. ‘He’s really attacked the areas we’ve asked him to improve on.
‘I’ve stayed in touch with Dan fairly regularly. His experience is invaluable.’
Ellis Genge makes way for Ben Moon as supporting loosehead to Mako Vunipola, with Jones set to reveal his starting XV this morning.
Hatley said: ‘It’s obviously a close call but with the form Dan and Ben have been in — they’ve gone really well — we think it’s a good opportunity to put pressure on Ellis, Harry, Kyle Sinkler and Mako.
‘We’re trying to develop strength in depth because you never know what could happen around the corner. You need not just two deep but four or five.’
Cole and Moon are superb scrummagers, but Hatley denies their recall is motivated by the strength of the French set-piece and the danger posed by giant props Jefferson Poirot and Uini Atonio.
‘You can never guarantee who starts, who finishes or how many scrums you’ll get,’ Hatley added.
Either Courtney Lawes or Joe Launchbury will start alongside George Kruis in the second row, while Maro Itoje recovers from knee-ligament damage.
Fit-again wing Joe Cokanasiga could replace Chris Ashton on the bench.