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Saints immediate priority for Wood

08 November 2011

  • Tom Wood focussed on winning back place in Northampton pack
  • Media speculation about England captaincy flattering for Saints man
England flanker Tom Wood on the charge for Northampton Saints

Photo: Getty Images

Winning back his place in Northampton Saints’ back row is Tom Wood’s priority after a disappointing Rugby World Cup campaign, as the 24-year-old plays down media speculation touting him as a candidate to be the next England captain.

Wood has returned to Franklin's Gardens after a campaign in New Zealand which saw him reduced to a bit-part player in Martin Johnson's squad.

It was a harsh lesson in international rugby for Wood who had broken into the England side for the 2011 RBS 6 Nations and was one of the star performers during the title-winning campaign.

However, Wood, who started all five games in the 2011 RBS 6 Nations, was limited to just 99 minutes of action during the World Cup as Tom Croft, captain Lewis Moody and James Haskell were all preferred on the flanks.

And with Moody announcing his retirement from the international stage, Wood's name has been touted in the media as a possible successor as skipper.

But former Worcester Warriors man Wood is focusing on making up for lost time with a wealth of talent in the ranks Northampton Saints.

"I definitely feel I have something to prove at Northampton," he said.

"There are a lot of young guys coming in. Ben Nutley has played really well in my absence. We've always had a strong back row with the likes of Calum Clark, Phil Dowson and Roger Wilson and people are playing well.

"You have got to fight for your own place before you worry at anything above that. I have just got to make sure I am doing everything right to make sure that I am worthy of that shirt.

"Above and beyond that, having had such a disappointing time at the World Cup of course I have a point to prove. I make no bones about it, I have got to go out there and prove I am the man for the job."

Captaincy links flattering – Wood

England flanker catches a lineout during Rugby World Cup training in Queenstown, New Zealand

Photo: Getty Images

Wood joined Northampton from Worcester in 2010 and a stellar season saw him named the Aviva Premiership player of the year.

And although he would be proud to skipper his country, Wood admits people should not get carried away by the success Wales have had in naming a young captain in the shape of Sam Warburton.

"It is very flattering to have my name talked about," he said.

"I obviously would love the job and to lead out England but it is media hype. I think they have seen Sam Warburton be successful and coming of age and have started talking about a new era ahead of the 2015 World Cup. However, I am still reeling after the last one, so I am not quite ready to be looking that far ahead at the moment.

"I have got to make sure of my Northampton place first, while I am not even in the England team at the moment. I didn't even make the bench for the France game, so I have got to make sure I am on form and worthy of my place in the team.

"Even when I am, I don't think you should name your captain well in advance of any tournament or even for the next six months. I think once you have picked the best team for the game coming up then name your captain, rather than naming the captain well in advance."