ENGLAND FIGHT FIRE WITH FIRE.. JUST ADD WOOD; SIX NATIONS 2014: FRANCE v ENGLAND, STADE DE FRANCE, 5PM WALES v ITALY, 2.30pm SCOTLAND v IRELAND, TOMORROW, 3PM; Angry Tom: Ditch gutsy loser label..we EXPECT to win.
TOM WOOD wants England to bin their 'gallant loser' tag and fight fire with fire in Paris tonight.
The talk all week has been of England's brave new world after head coach Stuart Lancaster picked a Six Nations back line still wet behind their ears.
So fresh-faced that rookie wing Jack Nowell, 20, was turned away from a cinema on Wednesday because he did not look old enough for an 18-certificate film.
So youthful that uncapped centre Luther Burrell, 26, gets his chance only because his mum emailed Lancaster, back when he was Leeds academy boss, and persuaded him to give her son another trial.
All good stuff but flanker Wood knows England will be judged not on their back stories but on what happens at Stade de France in the here and now.
As England checked into the same hotel that housed them when they reached the 2007 World Cup final, the flanker made that very point to his new team-mates.
He told them "no allowances" could be made for their inexperience and warned they have come into a "pretty established" team and a "culture and environment" that demands high standards.
"They are here on merit because they've been on great form in the Premiership," he added. "They've given themselves a chance. It's for them to come and take it now."
Wood is still simmering with frustration from England's last outing, when they coughed up a winning lead against New Zealand in the final quarter.
He says he detected a mood in the nation afterwards that it had been a "gutsy effort", that England had "tried hard - but come away where we should have come, which was second.
"I wasn't happy with that," he added. "We had an opportunity to beat them back-to-back. I felt it was there for us and we let it slip.
"To come off and accept a loss isn't in my nature or this team's nature. We're here not just trying to win but expecting to.
"France have a lot to play for and we'll see what we get," he added. "We may have to weather a storm early on but fear or being daunted doesn't come into our preparation.
"We intend to bring our own fire."
History shows England are good at doing that, having beaten the French in six of their last eight meetings.
They have a pack able to go toe to toe with any in the game - and pace to burn out wide in Nowell and Six Nations debutant Jonny May, a sub-11sec 100m man.
Chris Robshaw boasts the best win rate of any of the Six Nations captains (80 per cent) and goal-kicker Owen Farrell does not often miss.
Yet France, beaten just once in total in the last four post-Lions championships, start as odds-on favourites.
"That doesn't matter," Wood said. "When we need to, we'll show the character that's deep within this team."
probable line-ups france england 15 14 13 12 11 10 9 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 Dulin Huget Bastareaud Fofana Medard Brown Nowell Burrell Twelvetrees May Farrell Care Marler Hartley Plisson Doussain Domingo Kayser Mas Flanquart Cole Launchbury Lawes Pape (c) Nyanga Leroux Picamoles Wood Robshaw Vunipola
YOUNG GUNS England rookies Jack Nowell and Jonny May
plaudits not enough Wood was left fuming after New Zealand snatched a dramatic late win (left) at Twickenham
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|Title Annotation:||Sport; Opinion, Columns|
|Publication:||The Mirror (London, England)|
|Date:||Feb 1, 2014|
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