England players told to shape and sharpen up

Last updated 11:51 28/08/2014
Ben Smith
WORK TO DO: England flanker Tom Wood believes his side lacks mental toughness in comparison to the ruthless All Blacks.

Related Links

Strict regime keeps big Brad Thorn trucking on Snook: Fear of losing maintains All Blacks edge Andrew Hore answers Southland Stags SOS Wallabies wing Pat McCabe 'lucky to walk away' Sonny Bill Williams tours at Hansen's request All Blacks' World Cup training bases selected

Relevant offers

All Blacks

Steve Hansen ready to embrace All Blacks' World Cup challenge Andy Ellis determined to cherish All Blacks recall and take chance against Samoa All Blacks coach Steve Hansen to be made honorary high chief in Samoa after test Historic All Blacks test in Apia to bring Samoa to a standstill All Blacks remain calm as challenges stack up ahead of Samoan test Called-up All Blacks will get to play against Samoa in Apia, says coach Steve Hansen All Blacks add three players to training group ahead of Samoa test Wayne Barnes to referee All Blacks' Rugby World Cup opening match All Blacks unveil massive fan banner Cult New Zealand rugby hero Norm Berryman laid to rest in Perth

England players are on report to improve their fitness levels ahead of next year's Rugby World Cup but flanker Tom Wood believes it's the mental fitness they lack in comparison to the ruthless All Blacks.

An expanded England squad have just concluded a training camp. They debriefed their recent tour of New Zealand where they lost 3-0 to the All Blacks and outlined plans for their run into the World Cup they host next year.

Fitness tops the priority list. Desperate to expand their game, they are demanding better fitness levels to achieve that.

But Wood, the 27-year-old flanker who spent a year working and playing rugby in New Zealand in 2006, believes winning the mind games are just as important if they are to wrestle the world title away from the All Blacks.

"It is not so much about fitness as mental sharpness, about smelling blood and putting the throttle down. The All Blacks do that better than anyone else. When they have got you, they have really got you. It is a mental thing," Wood told The Telegraph newspaper in Britain.

He believed England were guilty of fatigue on their New Zealand tour that came on the back of an arduous European season.

"It was not so much about fitness as mental fatigue at the end of a long season. It is harsh to call us unfit on the back of that."

Having been edged in the first two tests in Auckland and Dunedin by late rallies from the All Blacks, England were blitzed by a first half assault from New Zealand in the third test in Hamilton.

"To fall away as we did in that test is totally unacceptable," Wood declared. "It was hard to take. I got worked up over some things. We can't be in that position again. We won't be that vulnerable again. We showed our deficiencies in some areas."

Wood did concede the fitness levels required for test rugby far exceeded the English club game and, indeed, the top levels of European club play. Statistics presented to the English squad at their camp proved this.

"International level is dramatically different to the club game. We have been shown data that illustrates that. There is about a 20-minute difference between international and club rugby, which is huge," Wood told The Telegraph.

"The game against France at the start of last season's Six Nations championship had 46 minutes of ball-in-play time, the highest I have known. It is regularly up around that level against the All Blacks in particular. They are fast games with ball in play a lot.

Ad Feedback

"Even the Heineken Cup [now the Champions Cup], is not bridging the gap. That is a more static, power-based game, whereas international rugby jumps to a really fast tempo. Everyone wants to throw quick line-outs, nobody wants to wait around and have a talk [about strategy] that way we do in the Premiership, the way set-piece dominant teams do. Everybody wants to keep the ball moving. We have to recognise that and train for it."

- Stuff


Special offers
Opinion poll

Who was the best-performed All Blacks forward on the northern tour?

Dane Coles

Nathan Harris

Keven Mealamu

Wyatt Crockett

Charlie Faumuina

Ben Franks

Owen Franks

Joe Moody

Brodie Retallick

Luke Romano

Jeremy Thrush

Patrick Tuipulotu

Sam Whitelock

Sam Cane

Jerome Kaino

Richie McCaw

Liam Messam

Kieran Read

Vitor Vito

Vote Result

Featured Promotions

Sponsored Content