TOP BAR - Fixtures

Wood won’t let England omission set him back

Tom Wood is determined not to dwell on his Six Nations omission as he prepares to return to Aviva Premiership Rugby action with Northampton Saints.

Wood has 42 England caps to his name and was a mainstay during the Stuart Lancaster era but Eddie Jones is the new man in charge of the Red Rose and that looks to be bad news for the flanker.

He was left out of the Australian’s Six Nations squad and it looks as though Harlequins forward Chris Robshaw has inherited his No.6 shirt after converting from openside this season.

However, Wood has certainly not given up on fighting his way back into the England fold, starting with some eye-catching displays at Franklin’s Gardens.

“There are different emotions that come with it,” he said. “I’m fundamentally disappointed – I want to be in that England squad, of course I do.

“It’s disappointing to miss out and to effectively be dropped is definitely not good for your ego. It is a motivator, but I like to think I can take these kinds of things in my stride and it doesn’t affect me as a person or a player.

“Just because you’re not in favour with one selector at a given time does not make you a bad player overnight. I’ve just got to continue what I’m doing, working hard, and fitness is essential for me now having been out with injury for a period of time. I’m looking forward to it all.”

One Saints player who has benefitted from Jones’ appointment is Dylan Hartley, who was installed this week as the new England captain.

And Wood believes his clubmate possesses all the skills necessary to succeed as a skipper at the highest level.

“Dylan has certainly been through a lot,” he continued. “He’s had some ups and downs as a captain here, but he has natural charisma with the lads and leadership qualities.

“He’s just got to relax and be himself. He’s a man of few words, some of his best captaincy is when he’s said nothing at all.

“He’s stood in front of the lads, looked everyone in the eye and said ‘follow me’ and that’s the mark of a true captain, I think.”

And while Hartley is leading England into battle in the Six Nations, Wood will be leading by example as Northampton seek to inject some life into their season and bridge the seven-point gap to the Aviva Premiership Rugby top four.

“We haven’t been on great form,” Wood added. “Our Premiership record hasn’t been brilliant, but we’re still in the fight.

“A couple of months of really good rugby will put us in a great position for the run in.”             
 

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