RUGBY UNION: Tom Wood urges England told to embrace Grand Slam
Tom Wood has urged his England team-mates to welcome the fact they are just two victories away from winning a first Grand Slam in a decade.
Two years ago, then-Red Rose coach Martin Johnson effectively banned all talk of a clean sweep as England built to their decisive game against Ireland. The low-key approach, however, backfired spectacularly with England blown off the park in Dublin by an Irish team who relished the chance to spoil the party on St Patrick’s weekend.
But Wood stressed the current outfit must learn from those mistakes heading into their remaining Six Nations matches against Italy at home and Wales in Cardiff.
“You’ve got to entertain the fact that that’s going to be a huge expectation and that it is going to be something the opposition want to take away from you as well,” the flanker said. “That’s extra motivation for them. We have to be ready for that extra desire in the opposition that comes with trying to rob the English of a potential party.
“The second we forget what got us here, we are in trouble. We’ve got very grounded coaches that instil that in us from the start.” Stuart Lancaster’s side are expected to easily account for the Azzurri at Twickenham on Sunday week to set up a shot at the Grand Slam against Wales in the final round of the championship.
Yet Wood insisted they couldn’t afford to look that far ahead, saying: “It’s important for us to be up for the game no matter what the opposition.”
DRAMA DOWN UNDER
Australia are set for potential club v country row ahead of this year’s British Lions tour with Wallabies coach Robbie Deans given the green light to pull players from the Super 15. In a move that is sure to raise the ire of the provincial sides, Australian Rugby Union chief executive Bill Pulver has indicated that his Test stars will be out of action three weeks before the first clash against the Lions on June 22. Although Pulver is yet to formalise an agreement with the five clubs, he all but confirmed they would be missing their best players right as the race for the play-offs intensifies.
“I’m not sure that we’ll get a consensus view clearly they want to have their players available for every Super Rugby game,” he said. “But my priority is that Robbie has the right preparation in order to make sure we beat the Lions.”