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Premiership Rugby

Australia the team to watch’ says Woodward

A Gallagher Premiership Rugby ball

"I've said all along that Australia are the team to watch," said Woodward.

"They've won two World Cups before, they are the current holders, they're playing at home and know how to win. They are an outstanding team with a proven track-record."

Australia, the only nation to have won the World Cup on more than one occasion, have not had the best of seasons in 2003, losing three successive Test matches during June and July – the first against Woodward's side in Melbourne, before going down to the Springboks and the All Blacks.

"This is a one-off tournament and the Wallabies have a great group of players," added Woodward. "They are the team to beat, it's as simple as that."

England, however, go into the tournament as the world's No.1 side in both the International Rugby Board and Zurich World Rankings.

And Woodward stressed that a Grand Slam-winning spring and summer victories against New Zealand and Australia provided vital momentum to England's challenge.

But he compared his side to a squad of Olympic athletes who need to produce personal best performances to succeed on the big stage. To him the past no longer matters.

"People like to consider the past but all you can do is look at the current team. Our record speaks for itself – we have built up a lot of momentum," he said.

"Wins over the likes of Ireland in Dublin and then the summer tour Down Under have helped to breed confidence, but it's all history now. None of it will matter when we get to the World Cup.

"But we have a very experienced team now and I'm confident they can play anyone, any time, anywhere. We have drawn on all our experience of the last few years and put it into practice. All of us – coaches and players – can be better than ever before.

"The players must be like athletes looking to record their personal best. All of the players must produce a personal best. If they do that then we will have a good tournament. But the bottom line is Georgia a week on Sunday."

New Zealand are the joint-favourites with the bookmakers for the tournament that climaxes in Sydney on Saturday, November 22.

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