TOM Wood’s England spot has never been under more threat than it is now, but less than a year out from the World Cup, Red Rose legend Lewis Moody is adamant the Coventry-born flanker should stay put.
Although Steffon Armitage’s return to England failed to materialise, head coach Stuart Lancaster wasn’t exactly short on back row options when he named his squad for the autumn internationals.
Wood’s Northampton teammate Calum Clark is now eyeing up a first England cap while James Haskell was also included following rave reviews this season after being installed as Wasps’ captain.
On paper it would seem that Wood, who attended Woodlands Academy, has little to worry about having started 19 of the last 20 England Tests, even captaining his country to Argentina last summer.
Many have touted Haskell, who deputised for Wood against the All Blacks back June, as a possible England captain at next year’s World Cup.
But Moody, who lifted the Webb Ellis Cup with England in 2003, believes Wood’s no-nonsense approach should make him one of the first names on Lancaster’s teamsheet.
And he is tipping the Northampton Saints man to lead the Red Rose into battle should Chris Robshaw lose the role.
He said: “James is playing so well at the minute and he’s an abrasive ball carrier but he’s a big ego.
“I think people like Tom Wood are much more straight down the line and they perform. Tom is very simple in the way he approaches the game whereas James is a bit more like Lawrence Dallaglio in the way he leads.
“I don’t necessarily think that is the right sort of appointment at this time (Haskell as England captain) and I don’t think he would get in the England team ahead of (Ben) Morgan, (Billy) Vunipola or Wood anyway.
“There is a lot of competition for that No.6 spot. Tom Croft still isn’t quite back to fitness but he’s a good player, and then obviously Tom is holding down that position at the minute.
“But the back row has pretty much cemented itself in – (Chris) Robshaw, Vunipola and Tom, and Tom would be one that I think Graham Rowntree and Stuart would be looking at as their next captain.”
While Wood was once again called upon by Lancaster, Shane Geraghty, also born and raised in Coventry, missed out on a fly-half berth with Owen Farrell, George Ford and Stephen Myler selected.
In truth it was really only Myler that Geraghty was competing with but Moody insists the former Bablake School pupil can have no complaints.
He added: “I think Shane Geraghty has had his chance at international level, so it’s right that he’s not in the England squad.
“If Shane was playing well enough and playing better than Stephen Myler then maybe he would get a chance.
“If he offered something more consistent or different to Stephen then, yes, he should definitely be in there but at the minute I think the choices Stuart has gone with are the right ones.”
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