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Clive Woodward update

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Clive Woodward on www.zurichpremiership.com 4th November 2003Brisbane

AT: Simon Shaw has arrived, how difficult is it after he has played Zurich Premiership rugby to get him up to international level and into the mindset of the players who have been here for the whole tour?

CW: I don’t think that it will be difficult at all, he did all the pre-season and he and Graham Rowntree were the unluckiest players not to make the thirty. Simon has been totally involved, he played outstandingly for us against Wales, he is very close to the squad and we have only been gone a month without him. He arrived this morning but I think that he will fit in straight away and will just get on with it. We gave him the chance to play for London Wasps in the Zurich Premiership on Sunday but he decided to pull out with Warren Gatland’s blessing, which I was pleased about but it was his call. He is a world class player, we are getting down to crunch time now and we are pleased to have him here.

AT: There were various other injuries on Sunday night, is everyone else alright?

CW: We won’t know finally until tomorrow but certainly with Balshaw he is going to be fine and that Martin Corry is ok and those were the two that we were worried about from the match. So the biggest concern is Richard Hill, this niggling hamstring doesn’t seem to go away.

AT: We are now in the centre of Brisbane, amongst spectators right in the heart of the city, is that a problem when they were shielded on the Gold Coast and also of course at Pennyhill Park which is very secure?

CW: It depends how you handle it. When England are away from home, playing test matches we always try and stay in the centre of town, you can isolate yourself too much from an international game and our experience is that we should stay in a good hotel right in the middle, so the players can pick up the flavour of what is going on. I can remember one game where we stayed in this lovely hotel, miles away from anywhere but by the time we arrived at the game on match day, our mindset really wasn’t on the game and we didn’t pick up the whole vibe of the match and we lost. But we learn from those experiences, you have got to be careful and there are obviously more spectators in town than normal. My message to the players is that we are not here to go into a sort of closet, we need to behave how we normally do, walk down the streets, go out for coffee and just do what they normally do back in England. This is a very serious tournament that we are in but you can also be too serious about it and become a recluse and we don’t want that. It is good that we are right in the centre of Brisbane and that for me has always worked extremely well for England. The players are very sensible, they know how to look after themselves, they don’t go out on their own and if they did get any idiot coming up to them to cause any problems they can handle themselves.

AT: And on security, it was breached during the South Africa game against Samoa, does that worry you that players might be attacked on the pitch?

CW: It is not something that you can think about, you totally trust the organisers here and I have to say that the Australians, as we knew they would, have done a fantastic job on this World Cup and they were obviously more disappointed than anyone else. The organisation in every sense has been first class, you cannot fault it. Meanwhile if you get some idiot in the crowd determined to run on the pitch in that split second it is very difficult to actually stop it but I just praise the Australians again now that we are getting into the serious end of the tournament, they have just done a brilliant job and it just proves to me that World Cups should be in one country. And if one idiot wants to run on the pitch there is not much that you can do about it, we see it at Twickenham, you cannot put a whole load of stewards around the pitch. And I have got no doubt that the security put in place by the Australian organisers is right up to scratch.



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