Belfast Telegraph

Home Sport Rugby

England flanker Tom Wood lives for the moment in rugby career

Tom Wood adopts a "live fast" approach to rugby's ever-increasing physicality despite knowing his body must endure the repercussions later in life.

Wood is set to continue at openside when England open their RBS 6 Nations title defence against France at Twickenham on Saturday as the champions confront the prospect of being without their entire first choice back row.

Chris Robshaw has undergone shoulder surgery, Billy Vunipola is missing because of a knee problem and James Haskell has yet to be given the all clear due to his toe problem.

Wood finds the all-too familiar injury crisis easy to explain, insisting the brutality of the game has escalated since his professional career began in 2007.

"I'm not worried about the long-term - live fast. It feels like a different sport to when I started. I am very conscious of that," Wood said.

"I am sure there'll be some aching bones, but I wouldn't trade all of this for a comfortable elderly life with no aching joints.

"It's always been a tough game and I've always played hard, but the rate of collisions these days is unbelievable.

"I'm not worried about that, I enjoy it. That's why I play it. That tough nature of it is backing it up week after week, but you want it to be fierce and competitive, you want that level of attrition.

"That's part of what I pride myself on, that's how I like it and why I got into the sport.

"But it is difficult to back it up week after week, and everyone's due their injury, so you have to take it as it comes."

Among the tasks facing Wood at Twickenham will be stopping Northampton team-mate Louis Picamoles, the rampaging France number eight who has been one of the stars of season since arriving at Franklin's Gardens last summer.

"Louis has shown me how to hurdle would-be defenders. He has taught me to expect the unexpected when playing alongside him," he said.

"He gets himself into situations where you think there's no chance of an off-load coming but he manages to get one away.

"He rides tackles and is very unorthodox in his ball-carrying. He doesn't necessarily carry the ball hard at the line or hit it at a huge pace.

"He waits for you to make your move and he has got such big legs you can't get your arms around them at once.

"And he has got such balance that as you commit to the tackle he just palms you into the floor, shifts his hips so you can't get hold of him so he is making ground all the time, making his arms available then for the off-load.

"He's a great player. I've played against him a few times and have always had my hands full trying to deal with him. I'm glad he's on my side at the Saints."

Wood knows what strategy he will adopt when Picamoles collides with England's explosive number eight Nathan Hughes on Saturday. "I'll stand back," he said.


From Belfast Telegraph