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Woodward’s respect for Johnson

A Gallagher Premiership Rugby ball

AT: An extraordinary amount of injuries at the start of the week, it looks pretty good now, how important are the medical staff you have got out here?

CW: Vitally important, we pride ourselves on having a world class set up in every area, and the medical team is right up there. It’s run by Doctor Simon Kemp, we just call him the Doctor, and backed up by Phil Pask and Barney Kenny as physios and Richard Wegrzyk, who I think you would say is a masseur but that would be rather understating Richard’s role.

So the four of them work incredibly hard and work incredibly long hours. Their area of the medical room, I never go to, nor do the other coaches, it’s their area and the players area, we just keep our distance completely. I will meet with the Doctor once a day and I totally trust what he says, he has the final say and if he says a player can’t play, I will never go against him. We all work very, very well together, it’s an absolute key part of the team and this week they have really earned their money, Monday was looking a little bleak but everyday it has got better. With the exception of Grewcock we are selecting from 29 players.

AT: But anything can happen at anytime, players can hurt themselves going down stairs or on the training pitch, so you are never out the woods till the game starts.

CW: When you work in a World Cup the whole squad will prepare for the game, will take their kit to the game, and as you say people have injured themselves in the dressing room and in the rules of the competition until the ball kicks off you can still change your team. But the medical staff are on call 24 hours a day, when you deal with these players they take a lot of looking after especially when they are training, and for Richard the hours that he works are incredible.

AT: Samoa beat Uruguay comfortably last night and proved that they are going to be a nuisance aren’t they?

CW: They are going to be more than a nuisance. I went and watched the game, this was always, I think, going to be the toughest group with three outstanding sides, Samoa, South Africa and England. Samoa lived up to their billing last night, they were just very, very quick and if you think for one moment that will be a walk over game, they will not.

The two games that England should win comfortably were the one we have already played and Uruguay, but we have got the game against South Africa this weekend backed up by another physical game with another strong team, Samoa, the weekend after. That’s what the World Cup is all about there is no hiding here but we just have to really look forward to this game on Saturday night which from our point of view it is a must win game and we are not looking beyond Saturday night at the moment.

AT: Martin Johnson was voted for by www.zurichpremiership.com as their man of the match against Georgia, his contribution both on and off the field is outstanding. 

CW: He is a tremendous man, people forget he is a world class player, his playing ability is outstanding, he is the best lock in the world bar none. His captaincy is just fantastic and what everybody likes about him, is that he doesn’t talk a great deal but when he does, everyone just shuts up and listens. He has probably spoken more this week than I have ever heard because he knows how important this game is. He is doing an outstanding job and he is on top of his game and I am just very lucky to have him. He is a good guy to work with and you just know that wherever he is behind the scenes he is saying the right things to the players and that it a massive thing.  When you have a player so on side with what we are doing as a coaching team he never lets us down in that respect, in how we are approaching things, and once we have discussed things with him that’s it. His famous words are ‘lets get on with it’ and that’s his attitude, he just gets straight into things all of the time.


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