Wood open to talk of Grand Slam
February 26, 2013
Tom Wood was a standout performer against France on Saturday © PA Photos
England back-row Tom Wood insists that the team are happy to talk about a potential Grand Slam and that they can handle the pressure.
Stuart Lancaster's team have won their opening three matches of the Six Nations and with two remaining - Italy at Twickenham and Wales in the Millennium Stadium - England have every chance of securing the Grand Slam. Two years ago Martin Johnson's England went into their final match against Ireland with the clean sweep still a possibility but they came unstuck in Dublin.
Back in 2011 Johnson was reluctant to field any questions about the possible Grand Slam but Wood claims that the group are open to talking about the potential triumph.
"We took the approach a couple of years ago where we just batted back as much as we could and refused to talk on the issue," Wood told Sky Sports. "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.
"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."
England last secured a Grand Slam in 2003 and one member of that team, Lewis Moody, believes that a clean sweep could see Lancaster's men peak too soon. "Part of me wants them not to win it because you have to maintain that level of high performance," Moody told the BBC. "Winning the Six Nations is very important this year, they will do that, but the Grand Slam ... We will see, but the team is moving in the right direction."
© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.
Jim Mallinder and Justin Burnell were sat on the same top table, but in different circumstances. Tom Hamilton reports on the Aviva Premiership season launch
Tom Hamilton reports back from the launch of the Guinness PRO12 where there is a renewed sense of optimism with all of the off-field changes to the league
So much for the great Australian revival, writes Greg Growden. It now has the potential of going off the rails after the capitulation at Eden Park
The latest Week in Pictures takes in photographs from the Rugby Championship, the Top 14 and the southern hemisphere domestic scene