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Cole backs Championship neighbours

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Dan Cole took a break from his preparations for Saturday's Six Nations encounter with France to wish Nottingham well in the opening round of the Championship play-offs.

Leicester Tigers tighthead Cole has been involved in every game of this season’s RBS 6 Nations, winning his first cap from the bench against Wales and starting the four subsequent fixtures.

While his form in a Tigers shirt has caught the eye of the England management, Cole is also thankful for the experience gained on another rung of the ladder.

“I gained a lot of experience in Division One, playing at Bedford and Nottingham,” the 22-year-old prop said.

“It is a good competition, with teams like Nottingham and Exeter who like to play the ball around on a fast pitch, and other teams who take the battle on in the forwards. I think that variety is a very good way for players to learn.

“When you are a young player, it is about playing. When Bedford and Nottingham took us on, they allowed us to play in that competitive environment and you are fighting for your place. Week in, week out you have to perform in that division.

“There are a lot of wily old veterans in there and other guys coming through. It is a really good arena to learn in.”

Asked for his views on the Nottingham v Exeter fixture at Meadow Lane this Sunday, Cole told the RFU podcast: “Nottingham have a great pack and a good backline, on their day they can take anyone on and win. I wish them the best of luck.”

Nottingham kick off their Championship play-offs with a home game against Exeter Chiefs at Meadow Lane on Sunday (3pm). There are a number of Tigers connections in the Green and Whites squad, with Tom Youngs, Dan Hemingway and skipper Craig Hammond in the starting XV.