When Davey Wilson lines up against Leicester Tigers this weekend, he’ll come face to face with the man who could well wrestle back his England shirt this spring.
But the Bath Rugby tight-head insists he moved up a level for both club and country in 2014 – and is relishing the battles with Dan Cole to come.
Cole’s neck injury back in February opened the gate for Wilson to stamp his mark on Stuart Lancaster’s side, going on to make ten consecutive starts at No.3.
And as far as club form is concerned things could be faring little better for the 29-year-old, as second-place Bath seek to build on an eight-point gap which separates them from the chasing pack.
However, injuries are easing at Leicester and with Cole back as the fulcrum, the Welford Road outfit are beginning to motor along nicely.
The front-rowers’ rivalry will come to a head on Sunday but as far as Wilson is concerned, he is better equipped for the challenges ahead after a busy calendar year.
“I think I’ve kicked on this year for England, and that’s mainly down to being given the opportunity to show what I can do – I’ve been able to show what I’m capable of,” he said.
“I’m certainly trusted to be thrown into the set piece and I’ve been used a bit more around the park than I’m used to.
“I got the starts through a bit of misfortune to Dan but I went straight for it, trying to play as well as I can and I’ve been relishing every game.
“Cole is back now and I’m playing against him this weekend so it’s going to be a very competitive few weeks.
“You always want your best man playing for England and if I’m in form hopefully I can compete.”
Bath can’t move for international quality among their backs with Semesa Rokoduguni, Kyle Eastmond, George Ford, Jonathan Joseph and Anthony Watson all involved in Lancaster’s plans in the autumn.
But according to Wilson, it’s first and foremost taken a pack mentality to keep Bath flying high in Aviva Premiership Rugby.
“If you want to win a game in the Premiership, you have to be performing well in the forwards,” Wilson added. “You’ve got to rely on your strength in depth from time to time and give other players a shot who are quality players as well.
“We’re moving towards the business end of the season and you put out different sides for different challenges and I don’t mind sitting on the bench to freshen me up when quality guys like Henry (Thomas) are coming in.
“Last season we probably dropped off and that cost us in the end, we can’t let that happen again. We beat a quality side in Exeter and we have to keep the momentum up.”
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