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Woodward plans to sharpen attack

A Gallagher Premiership Rugby ball

Speaking to zurichpremiership.com, Woodward made clear that whilst he considered the containment of a rampant Springbok side as "one of England’s greatest ever defensive performances", he felt that their offensive strategy had let them down.

"I thought on reflection on Saturday night's game that defensively we were outstanding," he said.

"It was just awesome what we did but I think that we will be very critical of the amount of ball that we turned over that meant we had to defend with our lives.

"I think that it was one of England's greatest ever defensive performances, and that's what won the game.

"But in terms of our attacking play we were way off it, there will be some changes for this weekend, it is a very competitive squad and no, there is no chance of any complacency from any of the squad.

"Also we have seen the Samoans play, they are top of the group and if we turn over the ball to these guys as we did to the South Africans, we are going to get punished."

Woodward hinted that the team to take the field for Samoa will see "one or two changes" from the one that beat the Boks, and revealed that the Pacific Islanders' recent wins have been scrutinised by the England management team.

"We always put a video together for the team, it is very straight forward, one day we will look at what Samoa do defensively and the next day will look at what they do when they have got the ball," said Woodward.

"It is as simple as that, we do a lot of homework. It is our job to impart one or two key messages to the team and no more than that or you just get bogged down with it.

"We don't want the players spending hours on it, they have got to get themselves fresh and perform in the various training sessions and then switch off totally and get their minds and bodies in the best possible shape for Sunday night."

As for the all-important quotas of rest and relaxation, Woodward said: "I think that it is important that you work hard and play hard in terms of everything that you do, there is a lot going on but you plan your week with a bit of down time.

"Apart from that it is just full on, there is just no time. Even in the evenings I like to meet with a couple of the players for a cup of coffee and a chat about things, or any of the staff – the medical staff or coaches.

"It is just these small one on one meetings that take a lot of the time but that is part of the job that I enjoy. The best way of coaching a player is just sit down, one on one and talk, as opposed to the team meetings.

"There are not enough hours in the day but I do like to try and get one slot a week where you can say that is the time when I am on my own, no phones, no nothing, just get away and close your mind for a few hours."

But, with the barrage of media interest in England's progress, such luxuries may be beyond England's coach at the moment. In the aftermath of the win over South Africa, England came under attack from the Australian media for being 'vulnerable', 'one-dimensional', and entirely reliant on Wilkinson's left boot.

"I just want to thank all these coaches and players for all their feedback, it is excellent to get all this feedback via the media, we read it all and take it on board, and we just want to say thanks to Jonny Wilkinson.

"The hobby of commentating on England's relative strengths has now been taken up by several fellow national coaches, who have offered their own barbed compliments to England's management team for all the feedback we are getting," said Woodward – with a hint of sarcasm.


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