Wood­burn re­fus­ing to give up on Eng­land dream

The Rugby Paper - - News - NEALE HAR­VEY

IN-FORM Ex­eter wing Olly Wood­burn reck­ons be­ing snubbed by Eng­land has only fu­elled his am­bi­tion to nail down a Premier­ship win­ner’s medal.

Ten-try Wood­burn is en­joy­ing his best scor­ing cam­paign for an Ex­eter out­fit notch­ing tries for fun ahead of the play-offs. How­ever, he was over­looked for the Ar­gentina tour in favour of rookie trio Denny Solomona, Joe Cokanasiga and Nathan Earle.

Wood­burn, 25, told TRP: “I can’t lie, it was dis­ap­point­ing to miss out. With the back three boys go­ing with the Lions there were def­i­nitely op­por­tu­ni­ties for me and I don’t think I’ve been as close as I was to Eng­land se­lec­tion be­fore.

“It would have been great to get a shot, but I’ve got a lot of fo­cus on the end of the sea­son now and we’ve got a big semi-fi­nal com­ing up.

“This has been my best try-scor­ing sea­son by far so if I could bag a few more im­por­tant tries now, that’d be great.”

Wood­burn has proved a rev­e­la­tion at Chiefs since join­ing in 2015 from Bath, where he was never given a proper crack by then-boss Mike Ford.

He said: “I felt like I put a lot on the line for Bath and put in some really good per­for­mances, but I didn’t get the re­wards. It was frus­trat­ing be­cause I’d do well and then get dropped for rea­sons I didn’t un­der­stand, but here it’s been dif­fer­ent.

“I’ve worked on strengths and grown in this en­vi­ron­ment. Ali Hepher and the other coaches are not al­ways ham­mer­ing you about weak­nesses and things to im­prove on, it’s player-led and there’s a re­spon­si­bil­ity on you to im­prove to­gether.”

Wood­burn is a big­ger unit than he once was. He ex­plained: “I’m heav­ier than be­fore – around 100kg (15st 7lb) com­pared with 95kg (14st 10lb) at Bath – and whilst I was afraid of put­ting on weight, I’m do­ing 80 min­utes in a high tempo side. “It’s made me stronger and helped my de­fen­sive work. Peo­ple don’t run through me and I haven’t lost any speed, ei­ther, so it’s been great to come down to Ex­eter, work hard on and off the field and get some big re­wards off the back of that.”

Ex­eter have the look of Premier­ship cham­pi­ons, with Wood­burn adding: “We know what we did wrong in the fi­nal against Sara­cens last year, so we’re de­ter­mined to put it right. We’re in good form and will take on any­one – home or away!”

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