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Premiership Rugby

Woodward on the England team

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Woodward believes that Georgia will offer a stiffer challenge than expected and will give the England team a perfect springboard for their crunch match against South Africa on October 18.

"I am just delighted that we can pick our strongest team and that we have no injury worries at all so I can pick from 30 players," said Woodward.

"It's going to be a tough game against Georgia but it's a game that England should win. We saw them play against Italy and they should have beaten them, and Italy are in the Six Nations, so it's a great match for England a week before we play South Africa."

Woodward said that all 22 player had been picked on merit and that – as things presently stand – they represent England's strongest side.

"Some of the players like Lawrence Dallaglio and Phil Vickery haven't even played one game in four months because they missed the game against France, so it was important for the whole tournament that we started strong with arguably England's strongest team at the moment," said Woodward.

"But a lot can happen and we will certainly use the replacements at the weekend. I am looking forward to see Kryan Bracken and Iain Balshaw and they are pushing hard to get in the starting XV."

Woodward revealed that after months of training his players are itching to finally get into game mode and that he will be looking to give all 30 players a start during the pool stage of the World Cup.

"We have trained very, very hard, we have taken a lot of time to ensure that we have not had injuries during training and we are now ready for a hit out," he said.

"I never want to put myself in a corner over selection, but we have a very strong squad now and I would like to think that we would be prepared to use every member of the 30 party.

"It is a strong team and we have proven that in terms of the games against France in Marseille and the Maoris that our so called second team can front up to anybody. You know I would be disappointed if everybody in the 30 didn't get a start in one of these pool games."

The restoration of England's Grand Slam-winning backline will send scribes scribbling and the trio's versatile approach to positioning will send defences into a spin, but Woodward would not be drawn on the reasoning behind unorthodox method.

"[During the June win over Australia] we just switched Jason Robinson and Josh Lewsey round during the game for certain tactical reasons, but here again it is a discussion that always makes me smile – they both, along with Ben Cohen, will sometimes start at fullback or sometimes start at wing depending on what we are doing, and depending on who we are playing against," said Woodward.

"We are very lucky that we have got three players there in Lewsey, Robinson and Cohen that can play wing or fullback. Same with Balshaw, who will definitely run out this weekend, he is very strong, he had a great game against France in early September, and we have a very strong bench as well here."


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