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Premiership Rugby

England squad land in Perth

A Gallagher Premiership Rugby ball

The 30-man squad and support team were met by a number of Australian fans and a small number of English supporters at the airport, including one child dressed as Richard the Lionheart.

Fly-half Jonny Wilkinson was among a number of players who stopped to sign autographs for fans.

After briefly speaking to reporters, Clive Woodward then left with his team to head to their hotel in central Perth where the home press were treated to their first dose of the new media-polished coach during a press conference.

Woodward is famous for his past tangles with Australia's scribes but did not rise to the bait when asked whether England could survive without their prodigal fly-half Jonny Wilkinson.

"He's world class, but we've got several world class players. We've shown we can win without key players," said the coach.

Woodward has grown accustomed to questions regarding pressure, expectations and England's propensity to 'choke' at vital moments, and field all questions with a straight bat.

He reiterated that the England would thrive in the pressure cauldron of the World Cup and informed the assembled gathering that his players would enjoy every moment of the tournament.

On being asked whether England's rose would wilt under the gathering Australian summer, Woodward said: "The key thing when you're playing in the heat is fitness, and we're ahead of where we thought we'd be on that front."

All questions regarding England's chances were met with the now stock-standard response that the only game that mattered was the next one, Georgia.

And when pressed on whether, as expected, he will field a full strength fifteen to take on the men from Tbilisi, the coach demurred that the team had yet to picked and that an announcement would follow on Tuesday.


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