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Cole thanks senior players for his progress

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Dan Cole has thanked the senior players at Leicester Tigers for their help and advice as he prepares to make his debut for England Saxons against Portugal on Friday evening.

The 21-year-old graduate of the Tigers Academy has made 13 appearances for the first team this season, mostly at tightead prop, in the company of internationally experienced front rowers like Julian White, George Chuter and Marcos Ayerza.

Now he has been given the chance of a Saxons bow on the other side of the scrum and is looking forward to it.

“It is a nice surprise to get a starting place,” said Leicester-born Cole.

“I’ve played most of my rugby at tighthead but I’m happy to play at loose if that’s what the coach wants.

“I have had a few first-team games with Tigers this season and the senior guys at Leicester, especially guys like Mefin Davies and Boris Stankovich, have been great with their support and their advice all season. Now I’m just looking forward to getting out there on Friday.”

Cole has been capped at Under-18, 19 and 20 level, but appreciates the step up as the Saxons is just one step away from senior international status.

“I’ve played in age-group teams for England before, but this is the first time at Saxons and that means playing alongside guys of all ages and experience,” he says.

“Harry Ellis, Tom Varndell and Jordan Crane are all senior internationals and there are a lot of top-quality players in the squad. It is definitely a step up to play at this level.”

Cole joins senior caps Ellis, Varndell and Crane in the starting XV for Friday’s match at Edgeley Park, the home of Sale Sharks, with club colleague Matt Smith named among the replacements in his first call-up by the Saxons.

Sky Sports 1 is showing live coverage of the game. Match tickets are available from Sale Sharks, at www.salesharks.com priced £10 for adults and £5 for juniors.