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Tom Wood: England flanker eager to make most of recall for autumn Tests

Tom Wood training with the England squad in Portugal

Tom Wood (centre) trains with the rest of the England squad in Portugal

Flanker Tom Wood says he is determined to make the most of his surprise England recall after a year out.

Wood was an integral player under former head coach Stuart Lancaster, but has not featured since Eddie Jones took charge in November 2015.

Following a back-row injury crisis, Wood, 29, returned to the squad for the four autumn Tests, starting with South Africa on 12 November.

“I’ve been fairly philosophical about the whole thing,” he told BBC Sport.

“It’s easy to be bitter or have a chip on your shoulder but I’ve been conscious of not doing that.

“I’ve kept my head down and worked hard. I knew if an opportunity came my way I would be ready to go and take it with both hands, and that’s what I’m going to try and do.”

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Wood, who has won 42 caps, was one of a host of senior players dropped by Jones before this year’s Six Nations, with the Australian reported to have described his performances as “distinctly average”.

Speaking from England’s warm-weather training camp in Portugal, Wood said: “An awful lot was made of that, and perhaps I misspoke a little bit.

“I wasn’t throwing my toys out of the pram at the time; I was just stating what had happened.

“I wasn’t picked in the team because what he had seen from me wasn’t good enough, and that’s fair.”

Wood was a regular presence in the England side from 2012 to 2015, captaining the team on the tour of Argentina in 2013.

But he said England’s group-stage exit at the 2015 World Cup was always likely to have consequences for some high-profile players.

“Everyone’s neck was on the block a little bit,” he said.

“It obviously didn’t go to plan and it’s a results-driven business. When you don’t get the results everyone is under pressure – that’s just the nature of it. When the team loses like that, it’s difficult.”

Northampton captain Wood, who turns 30 on Thursday, said he is hugely motivated by the prospect of working with Jones and his assistant coaches.

“The most exciting thing about it is working with new coaches. I’ve never worked with Steve Borthwick or Neil Hatley or Eddie Jones,” said Wood.

“They have big reputations. They are really highly spoken of by all the players I have spoken to, so I’m just looking forward to getting in the mix and learning off all of these guys.”

With regular open-side flanker James Haskell injured, along with several of possible replacements, there is an opening in England’s back row which Wood could fill.

He said Jones had “talked about me being a real defensive leader for the team, and trying to lead in that sense and bring some energy in defence”.

Wood added: “There are lots of different options in the back row, and there are lots of good players in the camp. I’m here to train well and see what happens selection-wise.”

Listen to the full interview with Tom Wood on BBC Radio 5 live Rugby on Thursday, 3 November at 19:30 GMT

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Article source: http://www.bbc.co.uk/sport/rugby-union/37841185