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Premiership Rugby

Woodward looking no further than Saturday

A Gallagher Premiership Rugby ball

"Our mindset is that this is the most important game," said Woodward to the official Zurich Premiership website, as he aims to become the first ever coach to guide England to victory on Australian soil against the Wallabies.

"You have to go game by game. We are tremendously focused on the game. We had a tremendous game against the All Blacks, it will be a big shame if we don't front up on Saturday night.

"I think this Australian team will still be the team to beat in the World Cup – England have never won down here. In the World Cup they are playing at home, they have won the World Cup twice, they know how to win the championship, so it is a massive game for us.

"We have a good team and we are really looking forward to the game. If we can get a win on Saturday night, that will be a massive boost for everything that we are trying to do in October."

Asked if the current England side is the most focused he has ever worked with, Woodward said: "I don't think that you can compare. I have been in charge for six years, there are a hard group of players that have been with me all the time – Johnson, Dallaglio, Back, Hill, Wilkinson, Vickery – there are a hard core that have always been there and I think that those guys, to mention a few, have got better and better.

"And I think that their experience rubs off on the other guys such as Joe Worsley, so when new players come in they become just as focused. I think that they have rediscovered over a long period of time how to win big matches, and they are certainly now as mentally tough as any group that I have worked with."

On the subject of captain Martin Johnson's recent colossal performances for the English, Woodward said: "Oh tremendous – he has always been a great player. He played in 1997 when he led the Lions when I came into this [the England job].

"But he is an inspirational person to work with – he keeps pushing the barriers back. He has had a long season, he has got one more game to go on Saturday night, he takes it all in his stride and never moans.

"He doesn't like long meetings, he doesn't like too much analysis, he just likes to get on with it. He's a brilliant leader and he is still getting better.

"I really think that come the World Cup time, he is going to be one incredibly focused young man, and behind him an incredibly focused team. But he is the talisman – no doubt about that.

"A lot of people talk about if England lost Wilkinson. It would be a massive blow if we lost Johnson. He is a very, very important person, great to work with but he is the heartbeat of the team."


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