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Premiership Rugby

England depart for Australia

A Gallagher Premiership Rugby ball

Not since 1966 has England expected so much from a national sporting side on the eve of a major tournament, but coach Clive Woodward told zurichpremiership.com that he and his team were determined to just enjoy every minute of their trip.

"There has been a massive swell of support for the side and we do feel that the whole country is behind us," said the coach on the day of his team's departure.

"But there's a real difference between weight of expectation and just knowing that everyone is feeling real passion for the team and willing them to come through."

England have long been the bridesmaids of international rugby and have fluffed their lines at vital moments, but Woodward believes his side has matured under his tutelage and that they now positively thrive on pressure.

Indeed, in the past year England have exorcised their Gland Slam hoodoo and have knocked over all of their biggest challengers – both home and away.

"The word 'pressure' is going to be used widely in the next few weeks, but I really believe this team now plays better under pressure," said Woodward.

Not even the media frenzy surrounding England's chances could unsettle the England coach, who said he was "very relaxed" about the forthcoming tournament.

"You've just got to enjoy the hype, smile and take it all on board," he said.

"This is a very experienced group of players and a very experienced group of coaches. We all want to do well and we don't want to let anyone down – that's where the pressure is. The biggest expectation is coming from within our own team-room.

"The minute we get of that plane we'll get our chests out and heads up and not hide. There will be a lot of attention on England and myself, a lot of the usual flak flying around the media, but we are all very relaxed."

England had a run-out out at Twickenham on Tuesday night under lights and Woodward was happy to announce that all 30 players had come through all their pre-departure training uninjured.

The team will depart from Heathrow late on Wednesday night and will arrive in Perth on Friday ahead of their opening game against Georgia at the city's Subiaco Oval on Saturday, October 11.

England RWC fixtures:

v Georgia, Sunday, October 12v South Africa, Saturday, October 18v Samoa, Sunday, October 26v Uruguay, Sunday, November 2

By Andy Jackson


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