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Premiership Rugby

Clive Woodward update – Late injury withdrawals

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AT: Changes to the side, Matt Dawson and also Richard Hill out.

CW: As of Wednesday we thought that they were going to be fit, but the medical team with those players advised me this morning just before the team did a really quite a heavy fitness test that they are not quite right and the players were aware that there was a fully fit Bracken and Moody ready to come in. It’s part of the team rules, you just cannot go into these big games with anyone who is not 100%. To me we just move on, we have Gomarsall who will come onto the bench and Joe Worsley also comes on the bench. You have got to trust your squad and I trust all thirty players and I am very, very confident in all of their ability and to put any of them out against any of these international teams. So that is what we have done, it just adds a bit of spice to the whole thing, no more than that.

AT: There has been a lot of comment in the papers this week mainly from the Australians about the style of England’s play, how do you respond to that?

CW: We just laugh to be frank, we have been expecting it, every time we come down here we get it, so you know it is going to come but to be fair it is not just the Australians, with the exceptions of the Argentineans, it has been every team. Even Dave Clark, the Canadian Coach, weighed into Martin Johnson about goodness knows what yesterday, I don’t know why he is talking about England, as he is coach of the Canadian team. You just expect it, you feed off it in the team room, you feed off it as a coaching group and to be brutally honest you just don’t respond at all. The rules are very clear and I think that if you speak to any international referee, and they are the only people who count, they really enjoy refereeing England and if you look at our penalty count it is extremely low. England play our way, within the rules of the game and it is very, very effective and maybe we have just got one or two people worried.

AT: The media generally were onto you about rolling mauls the legalities or illegalities, but it is something that is used in the Zurich Premiership all the time.

CW: It is not just the Zurich Premiership it is used in rugby the whole time, and I think that this was all sparked by one comment by John Eales. John Eales wasn’t saying that England are cheats or that it was illegal but he was just saying that players have to stay attached and he highlighted one where it wasn’t, but that will be something that happens. We want the players to be attached as we want to score, and we don’t want to get penalised. There is no reason why we don’t want the player to be detached, we just think that it has been blown out of all proportion. The most important person is the referee Peter Marshall who I met with yesterday and he knows the laws inside out and he is very happy with what England do, he like me is taking it with a pinch of salt and a smile.

AT: Are you and the players aware of the huge levels of support that the World Cup and this game in particular has back home?

CW: I think we are but we will concentrate on our own team and on what we are doing but we are aware of the huge ground swell of support back home, there is no doubt about that, from when the team are phoning home and speaking to friends and relations. It is great but we are very clear about this, it is about winning this game on Saturday but having the support back home as well as the support out here has been awesome.

I really do think that we will dominate the crowd with the English Barmy Army on Saturday, there are so many white shirts in Perth, although there are a lot of South Africans as well. It will be one hell of an atmosphere at the game on Saturday night and I just hope that all the fans get behind the team from the moment that they leave the hotel till the moment they finish the game.

The ground swell of support is there and I really appreciated it. I have had faxes from the Queen, Tony Blair and Iain Duncan-Smith, the support is coming from all quarters and the team has had literally thousands of messages from all the fans. It is greatly appreciated but the real pressure is coming from within the team room and we are just determined not to let anyone down.

AT: The Barmy Army is here, Jumbo loads have come over apparently for this one game and then are going back, if we win the crowd does it make a big difference to the team?

CW: It makes a difference but I would never say it was the difference between winning and losing. I think that England can win away from home when there are no supporters there, which we have. The key time is in the warm up, when the team walk out to do their pre-match routines the noise is just fantastic and before the match against Georgia it was quite emotional and inspiring. I hope the crowd get to the stadium way before kick off and get behind the team when they are out there warming up. It does make a big difference and you know how you feel as a player and a coach but it is down to us as a team and we are determined not to let anyone down.

AT: Prince Harry is coming over, so we could use him on the bench if necessary?

CW: Yes he is here, and he has been in contact and says that he is available for selection! No, he is coming to the game and that is great. I am hoping that we get huge support tomorrow from the England supporters because it does make a difference. So if Prince Harry is there that is great to know and I hope he has his white shirt on!


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