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No more ‘fun in the sun’ for England

A Gallagher Premiership Rugby ball

Speaking to zurichpremiership.com, Woodward admitted that the Welsh would be buoyed by their performance in the final pool match against New Zealand at the weekend. Despite eventually going down 53-37, the Welsh held the lead for long periods and looked likely to cause a major upset at Sydney's Telstra Stadium.

That means the Welsh pose a far greater threat to England than what they have been given credit for. But Woodward is happy with his team's preparations, following the completion of their 111-13 win over lowly Uruguay at the weekend.

"Our preparations are right on plan and we are looking forward to going to Brisbane, which will be away from the holiday atmosphere where we have been. Now the serious business starts, you get into a city hotel with no more beaches, no more sun," the England coach said.

While Uruguay put up some pockets of resistance, they were never a match for England's largely second-string. The victory would no doubt give Woodward confidence going into the quarter-finals.

"Definitely, it has been a good week here on the Gold Coast," he said. "We came for some relaxation and the players played with a smile on their face last night [Sunday]. We knew that the Uruguayans would be a handful.

"They have got some forwards that are professional players, but we knew that if the England back division got some ball and played correctly we could have a good night.

"I think that everyone has to be very pleased, we have got back to the style that we are used to playing, we had a lot more width to our game. [Mike] Catt, [Stuart] Abbott and [Paul] Grayson played very well in the midfield and overall I am very pleased.

"I think those players watching from the sidelines would also have taken a lot out of it."

The England camp also learned a lot from watching Wales against the Kiwis – a game in which Wales showed vast improvement against an All Black side that looked out of sorts.

"I think that Wales would be very pleased with the way that they played, especially in the forwards," Woodward said. "I thought that they really took it to the All Black team, especially in the scrum and line-out.

"It is just one of those things when you are totally written off you can just go out and play that way – Wales were just fantastic.

"For the All Blacks I think that it can happen, it is the first time that the All Blacks have played against a serious side and they were not at their best. I was watching the game and I was thinking, if we play the All Blacks, we play the All Blacks, we can't legislate for this, but we have ended up playing Wales.

"Wales will take a massive amount out of that game, they will be hugely upbeat about it and the chances of playing England in the quarter-final makes it a huge game for both sides. I thought that Wales were magnificent last night and they will have every chance of providing a similar performance against England this weekend."


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