Star man Tom Wood believes England’s win against world champions New Zealand has set the standard for Six Nations success.
Saints flanker Wood was named man of the match as the Red Rose downed the All Blacks for the first time since 2003.
It was the Kiwis’ first defeat of 2012, ending their 20-match unbeaten run in the process, to provide England fans with a day they would never forget.
And Wood, who was in the thick of it throughout, has urged his international team-mates to ensure the stunning 38-21 success isn’t just a flash in the pan.
“It sets a real benchmark for us,” said the 26-year-old, who now has 12 England caps to his name. “It can’t be a one off.
“We need to reproduce this against every team we play against from here on in.
“We need to hit the Six Nations running now. It does show everyone what we’re capable of.
“If we keep the competition for places up, which we’re getting now, and if we can get our squad fit and firing, because there are more guys to come back in, then we’re a real force.”
England had endured back-to-back defeats in the two weeks before the New Zealand game, losing to Australia and South Africa at Twickenham.
They put those reverses to bed - and in style - with the crushing of the Kiwis, but Wood won’t be getting carried away.
He said: “It’s really important we keep our feet on the ground. We’ve got a humble bunch of guys here that work hard for each other.
“This is a sustained effort, it hasn’t just come out of the blue. It was against the form book but we played well against South Africa, we confronted them and their physicality and played really well on that day.
“It was unfortunate we didn’t get the win.
“We played reasonably well against Australia and dealt with Fiji in a professional manner. In 160 minutes of rugby against South Africa there was one point in it.
“We’re up there with the best of them but we won’t get ahead of ourselves, there’s no egos in this team, there’s competition for places and what speaks volumes for this team is that a few players were effectively dropped after the Australia game for no real fault of their own, the likes of Tom Johnson, and they were the first to come up to me, congratulate me and wish me well.
“It’s that kind of camraderie and rivalry with competition for places, but that respect for each other that’s going to keep this team going strong.”