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Woodward promises an ‘improved’ performance

A Gallagher Premiership Rugby ball

"I have just got a feeling that Australia have got a proven track-record in World Cups and they are playing at home," said Woodward.

"The Wallabies are a bit like England – they have not been playing well but they have certainly got the players.

"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."

England have yet to find the pre-tournament form that rocketed them to the top of the Zurich World Rankings.

Although they remain unbeaten in RWC they struggled to subdue the spirit of a vibrant Samoa challenge and leaked three tries to a Welsh side that made the Men in White look positively flat-footed.

The English media may be anxious at the team's lethargic progress, but Woodward told zurichpremiership.com that spirits within the England camp our sky-high.

"We trained last night [Thursday] for about 30 minutes and everyone is ready and there is a tremendous atmosphere in the camp," said Woodward.

"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.

"We make sure that we arrive with a smile at the team meeting – we even smile at the press – 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."

Woodward also payed tribute to Mike Catt who has been selected to start at inside centre – the Bath veteran's first return to England's starting XV for two years.

Catt's inclusion comes at the expense of his club colleague Mike Tindall, but the England coach was quick to stress that the switch was purely tactical – and hinted that the centre's hard-running talents would feature at some point during Sunday's showdown.

"I think that the key thing is merit, you have just got to forget the history and where Catt has come from, the bottom line is that he is here and international sport is about your last game and your next game," said the coach.

"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 Africa if Hill had been fit.

"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 midfield, 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-eighths, 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.

"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."

Woodward also suggested that Sunday's clash would be more about grunt and grind rather than pace and guile – and revealed that the team had received a encouraging message from a previous English World Cup winner.

"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."

By Andy Jackson


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