Belfast Telegraph

Thursday 28 August 2014

Wood ready to seize slam

Tom Wood believes England can handle the weight of expectation

Tom Wood insisted England must embrace the fact they are now just two steps away from winning a first Grand Slam in a decade, following their 23-13 victory over France.

Two years ago, Martin Johnson effectively banned all talk of a clean sweep as England built towards their decisive game against Ireland. But the decision to keep preparations low-key backfired. England were blown away in Dublin by an Ireland side who relished the prospect of ruining the Grand Slam party on St Patrick's weekend.

"We took the approach a couple of years ago where we just batted back (questions about the Grand Slam) as much as we could and refused to talk on the issue," Wood said. "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."

He went on: "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.

"We like to play things down, not get ahead of ourselves and make sure we are always working hard.

"It's important we stick to those values. We are a very tight group, a very humble group I like to think.

"But within the camp we have a lot of faith in each other. I look around the huddle before a game and I think 'I'm glad he's on our side'.

"That goes for every player. I've got a lot of faith in the guys around me and I've got that faith because I see the way they work day in, day out."

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