Harlequins may be in the enviable position of having two of the brightest English tight-head prospects but Will Collier admits he has to start keeping Kyle Sinckler out of the side to gain full international honours.
After a revelatory season for Quins, the pair were given a chance to fight for a spot on the New Zealand tour in an England XV against the Barbarians, with Sinckler claiming the spoils.
The 21-year-old remains first choice for Quins after being named in their starting side against London Irish for the London Double Header while Collier is on the bench.
But Collier, 23, insists director of rugby Conor O’Shea will rotate his options in the number three jersey to capitalise on their respective styles.
And after missing most of Quins’ sterling late season run with a neck injury, Collier knows that staying healthy is integral to a long career for club and country.
“My rivalry with Kyle Sinckler is good, especially as we’re both so young for tight-head props to be breaking through,” he said.
“I need to make sure I look after myself to help my chances for Quins and England – you see the importance of that in the injuries Dan Cole has had.
“It’s great for Quins to have two of us to share the load this year and we have a lot of respect for each other even though we are quite different players.
“Conor is very honest whenever he chooses between us, which is all we can ask for. He wants to keep both of us fresh as we are at the moment.
“After the summer with England the coaches just told me to keep my head down and keep working hard as whoever is in the Quins shirt the most will get the honours.”
O’Shea’s faith in his two inexperienced tight-heads following the departure of James Johnston to Saracens epitomises the club’s recent emphasis on developing a youthful yet harmonious team.
Collier believes this approach and a more fearless mind-set will ensure Quins rediscover their success of previous years, starting against the Exiles at Twickenham.
“It is amazing to be part of such a young squad that have all played together for a long time,” he said.
“Everyone gets on really well and there are no issues in the squad – anyone who gets a bit of an ego gets dragged back down to earth straight away.
“We need to approach more games with the do or die attitude we had at the end of last year where we had to win every game.
“The first game against London Irish is shaping up to be a great contest and in many ways it’s the perfect game to start with.”
HARLEQUINS’ OPENING FIXTURES
September 6: London Irish v Harlequins
September 12: Harlequins v Saracens
September 20: Harlequins v Wasps
September 28: Exeter Chiefs v Harlequins
October 4: Harlequins v London Welsh
October 10: Leicester Tigers v Harlequins