Former England and Leicester lock Martin Johnson has named his unsung hero for Eddie Jones’ England side when speaking to Sky Sports today.
“I think Owen Farrell and George Ford have been the linchpins for England and are really running the show from 10 and 12,” added Johnson.
“However Dan Cole at tighthead is a constant in the England team – he does not get a lot of mentions but that is good in a way. It is like referees – you only mention them when they have bad games.
“England are pretty solid in the set-piece and I think they would miss him more than anyone – he is potentially England’s least replaceable player.”
England’s 2003 World Cup winning captain also paid tribute to former Springbok scrum-half Joost van der Westhuizen.
“He was unique as a player,” said Johnson.
“He was this big, tall scrum-half but had this ability to get very low – almost like he was made of elastic. Then he had that pace; that top end speed and strength.
“In his pomp he was probably the most dangerous player I have ever played against. That is not an exaggeration. As a No 9 he was touching the ball a lot of the time and he could score from anywhere. He could exploit a blindside and be gone – he was a lethal player.
“You have scrum-half’s who have the ability to break but they don’t have that top end pace to go 50 yards afterwards – he had that. If I was picking my all-time team he would be the No 9. He is in that conversation about the all-time best No 9.
“I went over to see him a few times and it was extremely sad to see him struck down by that illness.”