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Clive Woodward update – Upbeat ahead of the semi

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Clive Woodward Transcript on www.zurichpremiership.com Friday 14th NovemberSydney

AT: There is a very upbeat mood amongst the squad now having looked pretty dejected earlier on in the week, all the players yesterday were very positive.

CW: There has been an upbeat mood for the whole of the World Cup campaign but when we do play badly and win we are very self-critical bunch and we do have long faces for about 24 hours, hopefully I don’t but the players are more disappointed than anyone else. They still won but you sometimes still need the odd team meeting with a few videos so that we really understand what we are doing wrong. But I think that in the back of our minds we have all been waiting for this game, sometimes it is not easy when you are red hot favourites to play the underdogs, we have struggled in a few games but we are here now in the semi final and the biggest thing for me is picking from a full strength side and it has given us a real buzz. I think that everyone is pleased with the selection of the side. We trained last night for about 30 minutes and everyone is ready and there is a tremendous atmosphere in the camp. Here in Manly there are a lot of English people everywhere, it’s a privilege to be here and I have no doubt that they will see the real England on Sunday night.

AT: The coaches generally put in so much effort they must be disappointed and they are the ones that need to get everyone fit and ready for Sunday.

CW: As I said these things happen it is not a perfect world and I can obviously speak on behalf of the coaches, Andy Robinson, Phil Larder and myself and obviously what we do reflects on the players. We have every right to be cranky and annoyed after the game, we have every right to do it and that is the time to be that way, especially when you have won, rather than on the way home. The time to be ultra critical is when you are being successful and we won and we make sure that we arrive with a smile at the team meeting, even smile at the press but it is how you handle it and I am very confident and positive for Sunday night. It has been a great week here and it is going to be a massive game I promise you that and I have no doubt that England are really going to turn up on Sunday night.

AT: And who are you going to play in the final, the Wallabies or the All Blacks?

CW: We have got to play France yet and we do just go game by game, to say I don’t care who we play would be fairly accurate but I have said all along that I think that Australia will win. I have just got a feeling that Australia have got a proven track record in World Cups they are playing at home, and a bit like England they have not been playing well and they have certainly got the players. I lived here for five years and it is very strange with rugby union, the Australians have absolutely no fear of the All Blacks. If Australia were playing South Africa then I would say that South Africa would win, somehow the South Africans have got the will over the Australians. The Wallabies seem to lose consistently to the South Africans but Australia have absolutely no fear of the All Blacks, I think that when Australia starting beating the All Blacks in the early eighties in the Bledisloe Cup they have not looked back. It will be an upset if Australia win but I have just got a sneaky suspicion that they will, they are playing at home with the crowd behind them. If Australia had to choose one of the three teams to play against it would be the All Blacks it wouldn’t be England or France.

AT: Mike Catt has been in the wilderness for two years but worked his way back into the side, and had a marvellous second half in Sunday’s game, he is in the squad on merit isn’t he?

CW: I think that key thing is merit, you have just got to forget the history and where he has come from, the bottom line is that he is here and international sport is about your last game and your next game. I just think that we had to make that change, it is the only change from the starting line up that played the major international tests against Australia and New Zealand in June and that would have been the team that would have started against South African if Hill had been fit. And also I need to mention Tindall who has done absolutely nothing wrong, it was just a tactical change We needed to get a ball player in the mid field, there has been a lot of pressure coming through on the nines and tens and we need to get a bit more width to the game and Catt is a genuine second five eights, where Greenwood and Tindall are genuine centres. I have no doubt that Tindall is going to play a major part in this game as Catt did last week. He is very relaxed about it and taking his chance but this is all about winning and as I keep saying to people it is just about winning. I have had messages of support from all over the place. We got a lovely fax from Jack Charlton, he made it very clear that it was about winning and I listen to him and Martin Johnson, it doesn’t matter how you get there you have just got to get there, that’s all that matters. So Catt has been picked on merit, we have been behind in almost every game and I don’t want to bring the cavalry on, I want the cavalry to start knowing that I have got Balshaw, Tindall, Leonard if I need them. I think Catt has strengthened the team for this weekend and we are at full strength and I am looking forward to it.

ENDS

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