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Premiership Rugby

Woodward ahead of the team announcement

A Gallagher Premiership Rugby ball

AT: Good news that Martyn Wood has arrived, the bad news is that he is not allowed to stay with the team, is that right?

CW: It is just part of the World Cup rules that we fully support and until you actually replace a player he can’t join the team, officially in the hotel, for training, for meals but he is here and he will spend the next 24 to 48 hours getting over the jet lag. The key thing is that everyone must understand the moment we replace a player, like if we were to replace Dawson, Bracken or Gomarsall, that player can’t play again in the tournament. So it is a big decision and one that we have to get absolutely spot on and if we have two fit scrum halves by the weekend, come Thursday Martyn will be flying back, hopefully to be able to play for his club at the weekend.

AT: They badly need him, Bath are top of the Zurich Premiership and at the moment they can’t be too pleased?

CW: Andy Robinson spoke to Michael Foley last night and obviously they wish him well and hope that he does get into the World Cup squad but they would also like to get him back as well. But it's World Cup time and England comes first, and the support from Bath and all the Zurich Premiership clubs has been first class.

AT: There were an extraordinary amount of injuries after the game at the weekend, was that just bad luck or do we expect the modern game to have a lot more injuries?

CW: No, you do get injuries after the game, and Doctor Simon Kemp says that the treatment room now is no different than after any other international. I just think with the amount of profile on the team and flying out Martyn, as well as the players leaving the pitch, appears to have become a big issue. I had a press conference last night and it must have been a quiet night in Perth as there were about 80 people there just to get an injury update. No, there is nothing abnormal about the level of injuries but in a World Cup having two number nines injured when you have got to go into this game, of all games, with one on the pitch and one on the bench it has obviously become a bit of a story but we won’t make a decision till Thursday.

AT: And everyone else will be available for selection?

CW: I believe so, Tindall we won’t know till the end of the week, but then again I know Mike Tindall and he gave me the thumbs up yesterday and he thinks that he will be ok. But you don’t want to be telling everyone that certain players are going to play and then pull them out at the last minute. I believe the only doubt is Dawson and it is fifty-fifty at this stage apart from that I believe that I will be picking from the full squad list and that includes Iain Balshaw who has come back off the injured list. We had 29 fit players available to start the game against Georgia, we lost Danny Grewcock in the warmup with a broken toe and he won’t be playing this weekend unless one of the three second rows was to get injured so we are doing ok.

AT: The Springboks were being ultra polite about England yesterday saying that they deserved to be top of the Zurich World Rankings and that it is going to be a great game. I felt they were being polite but it needs to be like that because we don’t want that Autumn game at Twickenham repeated.

CW: I think that they are handling it well. I was looking at my record, I have coached England against South Africa nine times since I took over and that is quite a lot. In fact we have probably played South Africa more than any other team, and out of those nine games we have only had one bad game. Every other game has been fantastic and I think that England have won five and lost four, and there hasn’t been a single game including that one at Twickenham when I haven’t gone into the opposition dressing room and shaken hands with their management and coaches. I think that Twickenham last November was a one off, and I think that is the way that we have to look at it, as we need to put it behind us, we weren’t totally innocent out there either, there were niggles on both sides.

You just knew that going into that Twickenham game last November that there wasn’t a healthy feeling about what was going to happen, but you do get a feeling for these things and I have no doubt that Saturday’s game will probably be hard and tough and that will be no different from all the others with the exception of the November Twickenham game. They have got a totally different team, they are not under the same pressure as they were at Twickenham last year. They believe they can beat England by playing outstanding rugby, which I know they are capable of. We are just expecting a fantastic game on Saturday night and that is how it should be, is going to be very tough, both sides have got a strength in the physical way that they play the game and when you get two pretty big sides facing each other you are going to get a lot of clashes. I would be very surprised if there were any incidents on a par with Twickenham last year, it should be a great game.


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