After a successful Six Nations in which England clinched the title, Tom Wood believes their back-row is in rude health ahead of the summer Tour to Argentina.
With experienced front-liners Billy Vunipola and James Haskell injured for various stages of the tournament, Eddie Jones was forced to field a rookie back-row that subsequently excelled – something that will now bolster competition for places going into the June Tests in San Juan and Santa Fe.
Wood was one of Jones’ trusted lieutenants during the Six Nations – despite being consigned to a substitute role after picking up a shoulder injury in the opening game against France – and he believes it’ll be a real selection headache for the boss when injured stars are fully fit.
“When everyone is fit it is going to be a headache selection wise for Eddie Jones, but the truth is in the back row its rare everyone is available in the back-row,” Wood told Sport360.
“It’s such an attritional position; few decisions are made for you because those injuries quickly accumulate.”
“You’ve got people like Chris Robshaw to come back into the squad, Sam Jones who was injured earlier in the year, Jack Clifford who hasn’t played a lot of rugby and has had his injuries as well.”
Jones has instigated England’s push to become one of the best teams in the world and after guiding them to a record-equalling 18 successive victories, the focus now turns to the two Tests in South America.
The Australian native has long been one to keep the media guessing, suggesting in the past that he brought his dog in to train with England and even getting involved in scrum training himself against the likes of hard hitters Mako Vunipola, Dylan Hartley and Dan Coles.
“He’s very confident in his own ability and in the squad,” said Woods. “He’s very good at distracting the media from what we are actually doing, throwing them a few red herrings here and there. That makes a big difference and takes the pressure off the group.
“He’s been there and done it. He’s an established coach and he’s learned some crafty methods along the way and he’s confident doing that.
“Eddie’s one of the boys. In the team room he is laughing and joking. He’s got banter; he’s got nicknames for everyone.
“Out there on the pitch he’s a pretty good task master, picks up on errors straight away and looks at the basic fundamental areas of the game and polices them very hard.”