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Woodward urges players to remain for Six Nations

A Gallagher Premiership Rugby ball

Speaking to zurichpremiership.com, Woodward rejected speculation that some of his senior players would now step down from international duty, and hinted that he will be urging them to stagger their farewells in order to maintain the momentum that swept England to World Cup glory on Saturday.

"I don't think that the team will necessarily break up, but life does move on," he said.

"The biggest thing to me is that this England success is not just going to be a blip – we have got to keep the momentum going.

"All 30 of these players have got a huge role to play in the future, and I hope that all of them will be available for selection in February for the Six Nations.

"They have played outstandingly well. If the enthusiasm is still there, I still want them there – you don't want to break a team up.

"I have just asked them all to go home, and not make any rash decisions over the next couple of months and see how they feel in January or February."

Woodward heaped unstinting praise on his team following their nail-biting 20-17 victory over hosts and holders Australia, paying tribute to a side that came of age in the most trying circumstances.

"We stepped up to the mark on Saturday," said Woodward.

"We made it incredibly close, and I think we should have won the game with something to spare before the end, but we made a lot of errors and I am sure it was an exciting game to watch!

"We had a saying: 'going from good to great' – they have always been a very good team but I think they are now a great team. I think that they proved that against all adversity last night.

"Every decision seemed to go against them, and yet they still won, and that is the sign of a champion team. They are a great bunch of players with a great captain, and I am just very, very proud and privileged to be in charge of them."

The England coach – who said he was now looking forward to a well-earned Christmas rest – also paid tribute to England's travelling army of fans, 40,000 of which witnessed captain Martin Johnson lifting the Webb Ellis Cup at Sydney's Telstra Stadium.

"I keep thinking about were the scenes at the end – the crowd," he said.

"I'm so proud to be English, so proud to see so many English people there, and to know that so many millions were supporting us back home.

"Just walking around the pitch – seeing all the white shirts and happy people – and knowing we had achieved something really special, is something that will live with me for ever.

"We've thrown the kitchen sink at this and won – I'd like to thank the RFU and the 12 Zurich Premiership clubs for all their support.

"This is a victory for English rugby – a lot of people have put a lot of time, effort and money into this and I'm just lucky to be the one heading it all up.

"I am just delighted for all the fans – it has been absolutely awesome."

By Andy Jackson

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