Monday, 5 September 2016

Wood Backs Stuart Lancaster

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Tom Wood says Stuart Lancaster and his coaches should "come out fighting" as the Rugby Football Union begins its review into England's display at the World Cup on Monday.

The hosts failed to qualify for the knockout stage for the first time.

But Wood, 28, backed Lancaster, saying: "I think I can speak for most of the lads - I want Stuart and the coaches to come out fighting.

"They've done themselves proud in terms of their preparation and work-rate."

The performance of Lancaster and lieutenants Andy Farrell, Graham Rowntree and Mike Catt will all be under review as the RFU decides whether they have a future.

RFU chief executive Ian Ritchie has said there would be no "hasty reaction" to England's exit, while Lancaster, who was appointed in 2011, has said he would find it "hard to walk away" from the job.

The 46-year-old former teacher has received the backing of former New Zealand and Wales head coach Graham Henry but there have been calls from former England internationals for Lancaster to leave his role.

Wood added: "The coaches will have learned an awful lot during this campaign and over the past three-and-a-half years.

"At the top, they are going to come under an awful lot of pressure to ring the changes, but I can't speak highly enough of Stuart as a bloke and as a coach. I back him."

The position of captain Chris Robshaw is also under close scrutiny after England seemed to lack leadership in key moments of the pivotal matches against Wales and Australia.

It was Robshaw who opted for an attacking line-out from a late penalty against Wales instead of directing Owen Farrell to go for goal. Had Farrell landed a difficult three points, England would have secured a draw - and would have been more likely to reach the quarter-finals.

Robshaw edged ahead of Wood for the captaincy at the start of Lancaster's reign, but the Northampton flanker said: "He's a strong character is Chris and he's been here before. He knows he's got the backing of the group."

Asked if he would like to be captain England if Robshaw was demoted, Wood replied: "I'd try to do what's right for the team.

"If I was asked to do it for the benefit of the team, then I'd consider it very carefully and probably front up."


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