Rugby: Call to arms precedes England showdown

By Gavin Mairs, Mick Cleary

Tom Wood. Photo / Getty Images
Tom Wood. Photo / Getty Images

England flanker Tom Wood has issued a rousing call to arms in the build-up to the weekend's showdown with New Zealand, urging the side to believe they can compete on an equal footing with the world champions and not "to declare a national holiday every time England beat the All Blacks".

Wood believes that a significant factor in England's unexpected 38-21 triumph over the world's No1-ranked team last year was their determination to play the man and not the shirt and he believes that Stuart Lancaster's side can maintain their winning run after victories against Australia and Argentina.

"Everyone puts New Zealand on a pedestal," said Wood, who took himself off to that country in his late teens, meeting his future wife as well as seeing the hold rugby has on the people."A lot of teams are beaten before they go into the game because they expect the All Blacks to win.

"That is what we got right last year and what we have got to recreate this year. Having lived there and played against some of those characters, it does demystify them.

We are not going to get caught up in the aura of the All Blacks. We are going to treat them like anybody else. They are a very good side. But that is all they are."

Wood stressed that England needed to put together a complete performance and improve on the disjointed effort when they beat Argentina 31-12 on Saturday, their ninth victory in 10 matches.

There is serious doubt whether exciting wing Christian Wade will be available. Marland Yarde, another absentee, is expected to be fit, as is Ben Youngs, the Leicester halfback who was a late withdrawal. Mako Vunipola, the loosehead prop, is not expected to be fit and Matt Mullan from Wasps has been called up as cover.

Wood is well aware that the team chosen to take on New Zealand in the prestige fixture of the northern autumn can expect a backlash from the All Blacks. The loss to England is their only reverse in 32 matches since the World Cup and they travel to Twickenham fresh from a 26-19 victory in France, which took their unbeaten run to 12 matches.

"We want to get to the position where we don't declare national holidays every time we beat the All Blacks," Wood said. "We want it to be a regular occurrence."

- Daily Telegraph UK

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