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Wood looking for a new England

Tom Wood has demanded England learn from the mistakes of their Grand Slam failure in Cardiff and match Argentina for passion when they lock horns in Saturday's first Test.

England saw their RBS 6 Nations title ambitions blown away in a cauldron of noise and Welsh patriotism inside the Millennium Stadium three months ago. Head coach Stuart Lancaster has begun work on a long-term programme designed to build a sense of English national identity within his squad ahead of the 2015 Rugby World Cup.

But in the immediate future lies a Test series against Argentina, a side who are never short of pride for the jersey. And Wood said: "We often find we are on the back foot because other nations have that togetherness and they rally to play the English because, the reality is, a lot of teams want to beat us."

He added: "We came up short against Wales. It is a lesson we learned there. We have to get ourselves back on the front foot. We want to be very proud of what we are and we want everyone to know we are proud.

"It is developing an identity, saying, 'This is who we are, this is what we are about and this is how we live, day in and day out'. It is early days so far but it is something we are starting to develop as a group, to make sure we have a real proud sense of identity and what it means to be English."

One of Lancaster's first jobs when he took charge of England was to reconnect the national team with their public and restore a sense of pride following the Rugby World Cup.

But Lancaster's plan is more than just a badge-kissing exercise. He is convinced it will make England a better team.

"I do think developing a national identity and how we develop ourselves as a team within the nation is important," Lancaster said.

"England are a very proud and passionate sporting nation. We have to make sure we show that on Saturday.

"We have felt it at Twickenham, when the crowd is behind you, and it is another 10 per cent on your performance. But equally you feel it in the Millennium Stadium the other way round. It will be no different this weekend. There won't be many English there on Saturday so we have to find it within us."


From Belfast Telegraph