Clive Woodward on www.zurichpremiership.com SydneyTuesday 11th November 2003
AT: We are here in Manly, it must feel a bit like coming home, doesn’t it?
CW: It does to be frank, I was living here for five years in the eighties but this location wasn’t my choice it was going to be whoever won the pool got the Manly Pacific but we have to be careful, it is almost too nice with the beach and it being one of the most beautiful parts of Australia. It is just a case of keeping everybody’s mind focussed on Sunday night, everyone is fully aware of what is at stake but yes it is good to be back in Manly, I have a lot of friends here, and I am looking forward to the week.
AT: How will this week change from last week in terms of training?
CW: We ease off a little more, we are going to do a couple of sessions in the evening. We trained during the day last week and I think that the team looked a bit tired, possibly we spent too much time in the sun. I believe that we will be picking from our strongest team for this semi final, which is excellent, it is all about being fresh for Sunday night. We need to run through a few things based on what we know about the French team and do things a bit differently to refresh everyone this week.
AT: It was a hard bruising game on Sunday, did everyone come through it or are there any injuries that might be long term?
CW: No there are no injuries that are long term and I have just been told that Richard Hill will be training full on today and that is the first time that he has been available since the first game. Austin Healey also arrives today, so we have got cover there. So I am just going to wait another twenty four hours and keep talking to the medical team and at this stage I believe that we will be picking from a full strength squad which is a fantastic position to be in for the semi final of a World Cup.
AT: England tend to play better when they play the better sides, would you agree with that because we have not played well so far?
CW: Well I hope that you are right! We still have not played well but we are winning and there has been a lot of debate about the whys and wherefores, sometimes we tend to over analyse these things but the most important thing is that we realise that we are not playing well and I just do believe that the team will step up a gear against France. We have come to this tournament as one of the favourites, number one in the Zurich World Rankings, and I think deep in the back of all our minds we would have been very disappointed not to have made the semi finals. Now we are at the semi final stage and it looks like we will have a full strength side to choose from and we are playing against France now which should be a great match up and I am very, very confident about this weekend. I just feel that we are where we should be and we have got a fantastic record over the past few months against these top sides in the world including France. I am just very confident going into this game and although there are a lot of question marks coming through from the media I think that it is just focussing everybody’s mind and I feel more relaxed this week than I did at this point last week going into the Welsh game, which was a huge banana skin. Those guys played well, they had absolutely nothing to lose and that is how they played and we just managed to scrape through and make the semi final. But that is all history now and we have to learn from the lessons of what happened in Brisbane, no more than that, we are just looking forward to the game and very excited about what could happen on Sunday evening.