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Woodward gears up for his date with destiny

A Gallagher Premiership Rugby ball

The England boss will be sending out his strongest side against Australia and he is "pleased and proud" with the way they have prepared. He has put to bed any last-minute paranoia and is now focusing on the job at hand.

It is not the players he is concerned with, but himself as he prepares to cope with another 80 minutes of madness in the glass-fronted coaching booth he will occupy at the Telstra Stadium.

"I'm pinching myself," said Woodward. "To arrive at a World Cup Final and to go in at full-strength, to be in that position, is fantastic.

"We're pleased and proud with the way we've prepared and we're here to win the Webb Ellis Cup. We haven't come here to come second. We're confident, extremely respectful of the Australian team and very excited about the occasion."

Woodward's role will be to control his staff on the touchline, make sure the right messages reach the players, prepare for any changes that need to be made at half-time and to make the correct substitution calls during the game.

He's hoping that he and assistant coaches Andy Robinson and Phil Larder will be able to think clearly when the stakes are at their highest.

"We say to each other – me, Andy and Phil – that it's important that we think clearly and don't get carried away with the emotion of the occasion," he said.

"That normally lasts about a minute before it all kicks off!

"We're pretty experienced. The time to pat yourself on the back or shoot yourself is afterwards. If we got too carried away we can't do our jobs properly. It's important we make the right calls."

The issue of dirty tricks again reared its head on the eve of the Final.

Would England's own chef be monitoring the players' dietary intake closely – in case food or drink was spiked, as some New Zealanders believed after they lost the 1995 Final to South Africa?

And what then about the danger that Australia had cracked England's line-out codes and were preparing to take advantage, in the way lock Justin Harrison did in the final Test of the 2001 Lions series?

"If someone's going to get you, they're going to get you," smiled Woodward, "you can't get paranoid about these things."

Robinson didn't believe Australia would have any unfair advantage at all. "We change our line-out calls for every game anyway," he said.


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