In­jury-hit Eng­land re­call ‘Sam­son’ Wood

Kuwait Times - - SPORTS -

Tom Wood was re­called for Eng­land’s end-of-year in­ter­na­tion­als yes­ter­day as coach Ed­die Jones tried to plug the gaps in an in­jury-hit squad. The Northamp­ton loose for­ward has not played for Eng­land since Aus­tralian coach Jones took over fol­low­ing the team’s firstround exit at last year’s World Cup.

But a back-row in­jury cri­sis that has seen James Haskell, Jack Clif­ford, Sam Jones and Mike Wil­liams all side­lined from the up­com­ing four home Tests against South Africa, Fiji, Ar­gentina and Aus­tralia has led to Wood’s re­call.

The 29-year-old won the last of his 42 caps against Uruguay in Eng­land’s World Cup fi­nale. It ap­peared his Test ca­reer was at an end after Wood said in Jan­uary that Jones had told him he was “dis­tinctly av­er­age”. But he now finds him­self back in a much-changed Eng­land squad that will look to pre­serve Jones’s un­beaten run as Red Rose boss made up of nine straight wins. “He might be like Sam­son-gets stronger with the long hair and the beard,” said Jones in a ref­er­ence to the bi­b­li­cal strong­man.

“I’ve been re­ally im­pressed with his work-rate. I’ve been in con­tact with him to do cer­tain things and he’s done that,” added Jones after he un­veiled his squad for the Old Mu­tual Wealth Series. “He’ll cer­tainly be in con­tention.”

Jones has also se­lected Wood’s fel­low Northamp­ton back-row Teimana Har­ri­son de­spite bring­ing him off early in Syd­ney in June dur­ing the third Test of Eng­land’s 3-0 series win in Aus­tralia.

Northamp­ton suf­fered a 41-7 Euro­pean Cham­pi­ons Cup thrash­ing by French side Cas­tres last week­end, but Jones said: “I was very im­pressed with Teimana Har­ri­son. In a Northamp­ton side that didn’t do so well, that was the best per­for­mance I’ve seen from a No 7 (open­side flanker) in a Pre­mier­ship team.”

WORLD CUP DEPTH

There are six un­capped play­ers in the 33-man squad in cen­tre Ben Te’o, fly-half Alex Lo­zowski, wing Mike Ha­ley, back­row, Nathan Hughes, se­cond row Char­lie Ewels, and prop Kyle Sinck­ler.

Jones said build­ing squad depth was vi­tal if Eng­land, knocked out in the first round of last year’s edi­tion on home soil, were to tri­umph at the 2019 World Cup in Ja­pan. “His­tory shows that when you’re pre­par­ing for a World Cup you need depth down to four and five po­si­tions,” the for­mer Aus­tralia and Ja­pan coach Jones ex­plained.

He cited the ex­am­ple of New Zealand fly-half Stephen Don­ald, who kicked the win­ning points in the All Blacks to a 2011 fi­nal win over France fol­low­ing a late callup into the squad.

“Stephen Don­ald was out white­bait­ing (fish­ing) and kicked the win­ning goal in a World Cup fi­nal wear­ing a jer­sey that was too small. “That’s the sort of depth you need.” Mean­while Bath lock Dave Attwood has also been re­called fol­low­ing in­juries to first-choice se­cond rows Ge­orge Kruis and Maro Itoje. Har­lequins prop Joe Mar­ler also re­turns from a self-im­posed break that saw him miss the Aus­tralia series, while wing Jonny May is back in the squad after an in­jury-plagued year after An­thony Wat­son and Jack Now­ell were side­lined.

Eng­land head to Por­tu­gal for a week­long train­ing camp on Sun­day be­fore fac­ing South Africa at Twick­en­ham on Novem­ber 12, with Fiji, Ar­gentina and Aus­tralia ar­riv­ing at ‘head­quar­ters’ on suc­ces­sive week­ends. Twick­en­ham.

Mike Brown (Har­lequins), Danny Care (Har­lequins), El­liot Daly (Wasps), Owen Far­rell (Sara­cens), Ge­orge Ford (Bath),Alex Goode (Sara­cens), Mike Ha­ley (Sale), Jonathan Joseph (Bath), Alex Lo­zowski (Sara­cens), Jonny May (Gloucester), Semesa Roko­duguni (Bath), Henry Slade (Ex­eter), Ben Te’o (Worces­ter), Mar­land Yarde (Har­lequins), Ben Youngs (Le­ices­ter)

Dave Attwood (Bath), Dan Cole (Le­ices­ter), Char­lie Ewels (Bath), El­lis Genge (Le­ices­ter), Jamie Ge­orge (Sara­cens), Teimana Har­ri­son (Northamp­ton), Dy­lan Hart­ley (Northamp­ton), Nathan Hughes (Wasps), Joe Launchbury (Wasps),Court­ney Lawes (Northamp­ton), Joe Mar­ler (Har­lequins), Ben Mor­gan (Gloucester), Chris Rob­shaw (Har­lequins), Kyle Sinck­ler (Har­lequins), Tommy Taylor (Wasps), Billy Vu­nipola (Sara­cens) ,Mako Vu­nipola (Sara­cens), Tom Wood (Northamp­ton). —AFP

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