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Deacs is up there with the best, says Cole

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Dan Cole described his Leicester Tigers team-mate Louis Deacon as one of the best tight locks in the world as they prepare for England's Grand Slam match against Ireland.

Cole and Deacon will line-up together in the Aviva Stadium, Dublin on Saturday (5pm kick off) as England aim to make it five wins from five in the RBS 6 Nations. They will be joined in the starting XV by Tigers team-mates Toby Flood and Ben Youngs while Tom Croft is named on the bench.

And Cole says Deacon has been in outstanding form during this season’s Championship.

“For Leicester he is the heart and soul of the club,” says Cole, who will win his 16th cap on Saturday. “He has done the same sort of work for England but, because he hasn’t done any of the ball carries or the flashy work and off-loads, he doesn’t get the credit.

“This year we have got that from other players and he can get on with his game which is leading the lineout, pushing in the scrums, hitting the rucks and mauls. Someone has to do that and he is probably the best tight lock in the world at this moment.”

Team manager Martin Johnson has made one change to the side that beat Scotland 22-16 last Saturday with Matt Banahan (Bath) making his first start of the Championship. Banahan replaces injured captain Mike Tindall (Gloucester) with Harlequins No8 Nick Easter taking over as skipper. David Strettle (Saracens) comes onto the bench while Mark Cueto (Sale Sharks) will win his 50th cap.

And Cole spelled out exactly what England expect on the pitch and from the stands.

“They are team that want to play. They have a very good backline, Lions in the pack and they are a team that can play a forward game or through the backs – like us,” he says.

“I don’t think any of the guys have played there – it’s a new ground. It is St Patrick’s Day as well, so the crowd should be pretty loud but we have to play against that. We did it against Wales in Cardiff and it will be a similar sort of atmosphere.

“It’s a big occasion and these are games you want to play in.

“You can think of the Grand Slam but the Irish are ahead of us and we want to win that game. Last year we lost to them and we want to put that right. We want to beat Ireland and the Grand Slam just happens to come after that,” Cole told the RFU.com podcast.

England team to face Ireland
15 Ben Foden (Northampton Saints)
14 Chris Ashton (Northampton Saints)
13 Matt Banahan (Bath Rugby)
12 Shontayne Hape (Bath Rugby)
11 Mark Cueto (Sale Sharks)
10 Toby Flood (Leicester Tigers)
9 Ben Youngs (Leicester Tigers)
1 Alex Corbisiero (London Irish)
2 Dylan Hartley (Northampton Saints)
3 Dan Cole (Leicester Tigers)
4 Louis Deacon (Leicester Tigers)
5 Tom Palmer (Stade Francais)
6 Tom Wood (Northampton Saints)
7 James Haskell (Stade Francais)
8 Nick Easter (Harlequins) (C)

16 Steve Thompson (Leeds Carnegie)
17 Paul Doran-Jones (Gloucester Rugby)
18 Simon Shaw (London Wasps)
19 Tom Croft (Leicester Tigers)
20 Danny Care (Harlequins)
21 Jonny Wilkinson (RC Toulon)
22 David Strettle (Saracens)