England will be treading a fine line at Twickenham tonight, according to Northampton Saints star Tom Wood, who is determined to soak up the atmosphere of a home crowd while staying focused on the task at hand.
Stuart Lancaster’s men will be looking to kick off the World Cup with a win as they take on Fiji in front of an 80,000 sell-out at Twickenham.
Wood is hoping that the Red Rose can take full advantage of the home-turf advantage in much the same way as Team GB’s athletes profited at London 2012.
But Wood, who captained Saints to the Aviva Premiership Rugby title in 2014, is well aware that the team will need to be mentally strong to not get overawed by the occasion.
“On the back of the Olympics we saw what it did for the British athletes and we want some of that,” said the 28-year-old.
“It is a difficult balancing act. You want to be in the zone and focus on your own game. At the same time we want to take full advantage of the home crowd and we want to soak all of that up.
“Stuart Lancaster has talked a lot about being on the front foot with English identity and our national pride. We know what that can do for us.
“We know it is a two-way thing. We have to go out there and give the crowd something to cheer. We have to show real intent, endeavour and execute well.
“Hopefully on the back of that there will be a snowball effect. They will get behind us and carry us through.”
The outing will be Wood’s second taste of World Cup action after making one start in England’s 2011 campaign when he lined up against Georgia.
This time he is hoping to have a bigger impact and is sure that the team will be fully focused when come kick off.
“This time it’s my chance,” added Wood, who will start alongside Robshaw in the back-row tonight. “I have been given a great opportunity and I have to make the most of it. I feel ready, so I just hope we show that.
“That’s kind of the anxiety now. When all the hard work is done there is not much you can do to change any of that now. We just have to put our best foot forwards.
“We are not entitled to win the World Cup and I can’t promise it. There are some great teams out there.”