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Wood tipped to handle hot reception


Tom Wood

Tom Wood

Tom Wood

England debutant Tom Wood has been backed to rise to the occasion in Friday night's RBS 6 Nations showdown with Wales.

Wood was not included in England's original 33-man squad but he has been promoted from the Saxons straight into the starting XV after injuries forced manager Martin Johnson to reshuffle his pack.

However, Johnson had no qualms in throwing flanker Wood in at the deep end, saying: "When young guys come in they sometimes don't know how good a player they are. We certainly rate him. He has impressed everyone with what he had done on the training field just by his demeanour and his manner."

He added: "He just seemed to say: 'I am not here to make the numbers up, I am here to have a crack'."

Wood will pack down at blindside flanker and offer England a back-row lineout option in the absence of Tom Croft, with James Haskell pressed into action on the openside.

Northampton boss Jim Mallinder added: "He's not an out-and-out six but at the same time he isn't an out-and-out seven. He brings the qualities of both. He is also an excellent jumper in the lineout.

"He's a determined lad, he came from Worcester and he wanted to improve both his club playing ambitions and his international career.

"He's done that and to start for England is a massive honour."

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