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Premiership Rugby

Woodward – ‘They think we are going to be smashed’

A Gallagher Premiership Rugby ball

Q: How big a loss is losing Matt Dawson?

Clive Woodward: We never like to loose a player so close to a test match, he hasn’t trained with the team for 3 days, Bracken has, so on the positive side it has worked in our favour. There is a very fine line between Bracken and Dawson anyway, so it doesn’t make any difference, we just need to get on with it.

Q: People in New Zealand are hyping the game up unbelievably, saying that it is a contrast of styles, do you see it that way?

CW: I think that they are comparing the Zurich Premiership with the Super 12 here. Also they have this impression of English rugby that we all play in Wellington boots and we play in grass that is two foot long. Fortunately, there are one or two Kiwis who have got a more balanced opinion of it, mainly those guys who have coached in England, such as Wayne Smith and Todd Blackadder. I don’t think that they see it that way, but the public think that England are going to get smashed over here so its going to be an interesting night.

But you know that they do talk up their team here, the media, there are one or two balanced reporters, but mainly they are just totally one-eyed, nothing is based on facts. I see the game as very evenly matched game, this is the number one and two ranked teams playing in the world, we are just about at full strength, they are at full strength, it should be a great game.

It's not about contrasting styles its about winning, if England win three nil and play the most boring rugby, I don’t care its all about winning and Saturday night is all that we have our minds focussed on.

Q: Day off for the players today, do they have complete freedom or are they controlled?

CW: Oh, total freedom. I work with the best athletes in the world and in my opinion and they are brilliant people, we trained yesterday afternoon, and I won’t see them till Friday, they have a complete break, and what they do is completely up to them. I don’t even ask them, but most of them will be putting their feet up and preparing themselves for Saturday. These guys don’t get many opportunities to face the All Blacks away from home and they will be absolutely right for the game on Saturday night.

Q: You say that they have taken the day off but I have just seen Jonny Wilkinson and the other kickers off to practice, that’s the dedication that some of these players show.

CW: Jonny Wilkinson never has a day off! (laughs). He has gone down to the ground with Alex King and Paul Grayson. Its important to have a day off and have a break and get away from everyone, it’s a pretty pressurised working environment, we have a tried and trusted way of working, Thursday is always a day off. I’ll work this morning and try and find a golf course this afternoon and just relax.

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