Belfast Telegraph

Thursday 27 November 2014

Wood keen to right wrongs of defeat

England flanker Tom Wood is drawing on the disappointment of last year's RBS 6 Nations defeat to Wales
England flanker Tom Wood is drawing on the disappointment of last year's RBS 6 Nations defeat to Wales

Tom Wood has broken ranks by admitting England's drive for a first RBS 6 Nations victory against Wales under Stuart Lancaster is being fuelled by last year's ordeal in Cardiff.

The Red Rose saw their Grand Slam designs crumble on a traumatising afternoon at the Millennium Stadium that resulted in Wales successfully defending their title.

While England have to date distanced themselves from talk of avenging the 30-3 rout, Wood views the visit of Warren Gatland's champions to Twickenham on Sunday as the time for retribution.

"This is a chance for us to right what we felt was a wrong on that day," the Northampton flanker said.

"I'd be lying if I said we didn't still carry an awful lot of hurt because that was a tough one to take. We ended up with a pretty embarrassing scoreline.

"I don't think the scoreline reflected how well we played. We were with them for most of the game, but in the end a few big momentum swings within the game cost us dearly.

"Because a team wins by 40 points one week doesn't make them a 40-point better team than the opposition. It just means they got it right on the day.

"That was a pretty harsh lesson so I'm looking forward to, hopefully, reciprocating.

"I don't think we were bullied, I think we just got shellshocked a little bit."

The significance of Sunday's Twickenham title showdown has grown after England and Wales disposed of Ireland and France in the previous round.

The winners will go on to play for the crown on the final day of the championship on March 15 while the losers will lick their wounds after the penultimate meeting between the rivals before colliding in the group stage of the 2015 World Cup.

England enter the match as favourites but Wood understands the level of emotional intensity that will inspire Wales, who are seeking an unprecedented hat-trick of outright title wins.

"Regardless of Wales' form, regardless of who's in the team and who's not, they're very capable of lifting their game and playing on a huge amount of emotion against England," Wood said.

"That's also the case for big occasions when everything's on the line, like next weekend.

"You can easily get conned or trapped by thinking their form hasn't been hugely brilliant.

"But when it comes to an occasion like last year, they have world-class players right throughout their team and they put it together.

"It's good for us that they're going into this game on the back of a big win against France. It changes the mindset a little bit."

While Wood is ready to draw on last year's pain in Cardiff for the return fixture, he stresses any simmering anger must always be overruled by level-headed professionalism.

"Everybody hating England is a compliment - I hate everybody equally so it doesn't really matter!" he said.

"We know what it means to them, we know we've got to be driven by performance.

"There's going to be a lot of talk of revenge and redemption, but we've got to be careful to use that in the right way.

"If you get caught in one-on-one battles or caught up in the hurt of last time too much, you can unravel yourself.

"It's not about putting Justin Tipuric's head on a dartboard for the next two weeks.

"It's about having a determination not to let that happen again filter through in everything you do and in all your preparation from now until the game.

"It's not just about game day and going out there fist-clenched thinking you're going to somehow extract revenge."

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