An injury-hit season gave Dan Cole a chance to reflect and reload – and he insists it’ll mean he’s at the peak of his powers for the World Cup.
The tight-head prop has been an ever present for England over the last five years and toured with the British & Irish Lions to Australia in 2013.
Neck surgery last summer finally ground the big man down but, having kicked his heels for large parts of last season’s campaign, Cole could not be more ready to make a dent at a home World Cup that is little more than two months away.
“I had a neck injury so I missed the first few months of the season, and over Christmas I missed a few weeks, but I came back for the Six Nations,” said Cole, who was speaking as part of the England Team at the official launch of the Canterbury England Rugby World Cup kit.
“It’s probably the first time in my career since 2009 when I had an extended break, so in that regard the physical and mental preparation and break was good.
“You never lose the fire to play rugby but you understand why you love the game so much when you’re desperate to play it – to have that taken away from you is not a good thing. I gradually got back into form, the Six Nations I think I did alright, so I was pretty pleased
“You are fortunate with injuries, they occur and all you can do is prepare as best as you can with your technical skills to eliminate that risk.
“But it’s always going to be there, that’s the nature of rugby, and part and parcel of one of those things you accept.”
The next stop in England’s preparations is Denver, where they will fly out this weekend to undergo high-altitude training.
The current 50-man squad is likely to be chopped down by five before the flight and with Davey Wilson and Kieran Brookes also jostling for position at tight-head, Cole believes the ultra-intense competition is required to lift the Webb Ellis Cup come October 31.
“You look at (reigning champions) New Zealand in 2011 and they were down to their fourth or fifth fly-half by the World Cup final, so you need a good squad depth,” he added.
“Injuries do happen, it’s not going to be 15 blokes to win you the World Cup, and you need the 31-man squad and also even players outside that.
“Davey’s got a lot of international caps, Kieran Brookes has come in and played a lot, and it’s all good for England.
“I can remember my first game, the first game of the Six Nations in 2010, and as time goes on you probably become more confident in your abilities.
“But you never lose the nerves or excitement for international rugby, every game is unique and you remember each one.”
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