He was dubbed the silent assassin but former England captain Lewis Moody knew all about him – and in Northampton Saints flanker Tom Wood he sees the successor to Richard Hill..
Hill was the one man that Sir Clive Woodward refused to drop – and that was a key reason why Moody won 15 of his England caps from the bench and 50 of them after the World Cup win in 2003.
Stuart Lancaster opted against keeping Wood as his captain for the autumn internationals despite leading England to a first ever clean sweep in Argentina this summer, with Chris Robshaw rested.
Nonetheless, Moody has been suitably impressed with Wood’s performances for both Northampton Saints and England this season, claiming his key strength is his willingness to put in the hard yards – just as it was for Hill.
“Tom Wood is just a big old grafter, he puts a huge amount of work in around the park,” said Moody, speaking at the 2013-14 LV= Cup launch.
“He was never shy to say what he felt needed to be said, which I think is always a good trait for guys who are ready to accept those responsibilities. He’s a great player in the making.
“And I think that is a good balance and until there is someone who really puts there hand up and demands to be starting; I think they are the right men for the job.
“I like what Stuart has done, he’s not reinvented the wheel, but what he has done is make this side believe in itself, it owns its own destiny.
“I think it’s a strength that Stuart is creating a desire for these players to achieve and the way you could measure performances is competition for places which is prevalent throughout the squad.”
Moody spent 15 years with Leicester Tigers but he admits he can’t help but be impressed with the way Midlands rivals Northampton Saints have started their campaign, claiming this should be the year they get their hands on some silverware.
“I’ve liked Northampton this year, a couple of key players that have been out of form for England – Lawes, Foden – have been excellent,” he added.
“And then Corbisiero is a great signing, George North is a great signing, Dylan Harley trying to get over his misdemeanours, I think they look good as a side.
“And to be honest, I think it’s about time. The amount of opportunities they’ve had. They’ve had so many chances, the Heineken Cup, the Premiership final last year as well, so they’ll be hungry for some silverware.”
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