Dan Cole
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Cole injury means Ireland will beat England in Six Nations

| 17.02.2014

Owen Farrell has become almost indispensable to England, but Dan Cole is probably the last player that coach Stuart Lancaster will have wanted to be without for the crunch Six Nations meeting with Ireland.

It is not that frequent that a prop sees out the whole 80 minutes of a rugby match, but this is something that Cole did in the defeat to France and he followed up by getting only the final five minutes off in the victory over Scotland.

His importance to England at tighthead is highlighted by the fact that he has been selected in 45 of his nation’s last 48 Tests, with two of this three absences caused by British Lions duty.

Cole has a bulging disc in his neck which is trapping a nerve and it will take the remainder of the Six Nations for him to make a recovery.

With Manu Tuilagi, Tom Croft and Geoff Parling already on the longer-term injury list, luck is certainly not with England and Cole’s absence in the scrum could prove the deciding factor in the Twickenham meeting with Ireland.

It is already a slight surprise to see England as such short favourites for victory at 4/9, but Cole’s setback only heaps more value onto what already looked a generous price of 7/4 that Ireland extend their Six Nations start to three wins from three.

Ireland have also triumphed in three of their last five Six Nations visits to Twickenham.

The battle to replace Cole is between youngster Henry Thomas, who is yet to start for England, and David Wilson, who has only just returned from eight weeks injured at Bath.

Cian Healy is the Irish player that stands to profit and if he can help dominate the English pack, Ireland could win with a bit in hand.