Saints flanker Wood says ‘human’ All Blacks can be beaten

Tom Wood is not intimidated by the all-conquering All Blacks

Tom Wood is not intimidated by the all-conquering All Blacks

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England flanker Tom Wood refuses to buy into the perception that world champions New Zealand will be invincible at Twickenham this afternoon (ko 2.30pm).

Saints star Wood holds All Black rugby in the highest esteem. The season he spent playing for North Otago in 2006 was a key part of his rugby education.

New Zealand are on a 20-game unbeaten run and they have not lost an autumn international in a decade, since they were downed by England at Twickenham in November 2002.

Streetwise and ruthless, the All Blacks appear to be playing rugby on a different plain to the rest of the world.

But Wood is convinced England can overturn the odds against New Zealand and avenge the frustrating defeats to Australia and South Africa.

“They are human, they are beatable,” Wood said.

“They are a very good team but they are not the all-singing, all-dancing team they are made out to be at times.

“They thrive on loose ball and counter-attack. They get ahead, they force you to chase the game and then when you make mistakes they capitalise.

“If we let them creep ahead six, nine points then we are in real danger.

“The best way to combat that is to take our game to them. We raised our game in terms of physicality last week but we will have to go up again this week.

“It’s about doing things on our terms, getting pressure on them and not allowing them the luxury of doing all the things they want to do.

“That’s the same every week and it’s no different because it’s the All Blacks - it’s just making sure you’re not in awe of them, as it would be quite easy to be on the back of such a winning streak and the hype that always surrounds them.

“We are going to play without fear and when we get a chance to attack we have to be more clinical. We have to take every opportunity that comes our way.

“It will be a huge scalp to get and will really salvage what has a been a disappointing campaign in terms of results.”

Wood starts for England this afternoon, while club-mate Courtney Lawes is among the replacements.