- Flanker says 2013 loss will linger despite win
- Wood urges against complacency and recklessness in Italy
Tom Wood says victory over Wales on Sunday won’t entirely erase the pain of last year’s thrashing, and has urged England to be “professional” and accurate in their final RBS 6 Nations clash against Italy.
Wood was an extremely prominent figure for the hosts at Twickenham this weekend, making 17 tackles as well as nine carries and three lineout takes.
And while admitting that a Triple Crown-clinching 29-18 triumph over Warren Gatland’s charges did feel satisfying, the Northampton Saint explained that England’s torrid evening at the Millennium Stadium 12 months ago would provide incentive for the remainder of his career.
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“Winning on Sunday was nice, but it doesn’t erase the memory of that day,” said the 27 year-old flanker, who won a 27th cap at the weekend. “We had everything on the line and got found wanting in into a very emotional environment.
“It wasn’t about a lack of effort or commitment – it was a lack of appreciation about what was coming our way. I thought on the day we fought bravely and did some good stuff.
“There were a couple of big momentum swings that day. We came out with no credit whatsoever on the wrong end of a 30-point scoreline.
“It was hard to take and it probably cost some people their Lions places – as the last game of the tournament, we didn’t have the following week to put it right so it festered for a while. Those occasions stay with you.”
Having contributed significantly to a dynamic performance that Wales struggled to contain, Wood then glanced back at how England have become a versatile, varied outfit that can attack in a number of ways.
“You’ve got to have confidence and balance to your game,” added. “If you move the ball every time, you may think you are all good rugby players but the opposition will eventually see what’s coming, get off the line and put you under pressure in your own 22.
“It’s about changing it up, so occasionally we’ll box-kick from nine, occasionally we’ll go to 10, occasionally we’ll have a dabble down the short-side, occasionally we’ll put it down the line.
“Mike Brown’s left foot gives us another out that we can use to put a long, wiping kick in. It’s great that we’re developing, but it’s also about our decision-making and not overplaying your hand.”
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Such sentiment will ring true in Rome too. With a points difference 49 points inferior to Ireland’s, England will have to beat the Azzurri by around 60 to stand any chance of clinching the Championship title if Joe Schmidt’s charges can prevail in Paris.
However, Wood hinted that complacency and recklessness would be disastrous and winning the game – not historically an easy feat – is the primary aim.
“We need to be clear about how we want to play,” he finished. “You have to earn the right to win any game. Italy-England has always been a close encounter and although they’ve never won the fixture, they’re probably going to have their stars – the likes of Segio Parisse – coming back into the starting lineup and they are going to want to go out on a high.
“For us it’s about going there and making sure we are motivated by the right factors. We can’t just get up for Wales at home because there’s all that hurt or Ireland because their Grand Slam is on the line and there’s 80,000 people watching us.
“We’ve got to make sure we are intrinsically motivated and we go away to Italy and do a professional job and hopefully get in a position where we can light the place up and put some points on the board. That will be and absolute luxury – first and foremost we’ve got to get a win.”