England flanker Tom Wood believes his team can take a lot of heart from their narrow loss to New Zealand at Twickenham last Saturday.
England flanker Tom Wood believes his team can take a lot of heart from their narrow defeat to New Zealand at Twickenham over the weekend.
Stuart Lancaster was without Mako Vunipola, Alex Corbisiero, Tom Youngs, Dan Cole, Joe Launchbury and Geoff Parling up front on Saturday.
However with no game time together since June, Wood and company managed to hold the All Blacks to a 21-24 result in their November opener.
“We don’t want to make excuses but when you consider some of the people that were missing, those that stepped in did themselves really proud, which is great for English rugby that we are developing that strength within the squad,” he said, speaking to the Northampton Herald and Post.
“We’re stepping it up a level in training and it’s starting to show. There’s some big names to come back and that strength in depth and that variety and being able to pick different players for different occasions is going to be a real strength for us going forwards.
“The result is frustrating but there are plenty of positives. We’re close, we just need to keep the faith in what we are doing and learn the lessons from this. It will make us stronger players and a better team.”
England know that learning from tough defeats cannot be a long-term plan if they are to win the World Cup next year and Wood is aware of the concern from fans.
“The pressure is always on us to perform at Twickenham, this result won’t change how we prepare. We’ll come out and give it everything and hopefully we’ll fall on the right side of the result,” he added.
“South Africa are a quality outfit, they’ve a big powerful pack, so we need to be on top of our game as it’s going to be physical. We’re working on our game, our shapes and our structures and the way we want to approach the game and try and take it to them. That’s the main focus and that won’t change.”