Wood cleared, as England consider changes

Wed, 08 Feb 2017 20:32
Large tom wood injured 800

SIX NATIONS SPOTLIGHT: England flank Tom Wood has been passed fit to play in Saturday's Six Nations match away to Wales, but the title-holders could yet alter their back row line-up.

Wood suffered a shoulder injury in Grand Slam champions England's opening 19-16 win at home to France last Saturday and left Twickenham with his arm in a sling.  

The 30-year-old Northampton loose forward hasn't trained since but is expected to take part in a practice session on Thursday - when coach Eddie Jones is due to name his side to play Wales.

"Tom's hurt his shoulder and is in modified training to protect him, but he's still up for selection this weekend," England defence coach Paul Gustard said Wednesday.

"Wednesday evening is when we meet to make our final selection calls. That's when we'll decide what is our best [matchday] 23."

If Wood is not in the starting XV that will leave England fielding a novice back row already without the injured duo of star No.8 Billy Vunipola and former captain Chris Robshaw.

Harlequins flank Jack Clifford is back in contention after missing the France opener with a chest injury and could now replace Wood on the openside.

But should he join inexperienced No.8 Nathan Hughes and blindside flank Maro Itoje, who has spent most of his England career as a lock, the loose trio will only have four caps between them in their starting positions.

By contrast, Wales could pick Taulupe Faletau, former captain Sam Warburton and Justin Tipuric, who have 147 back row caps between them.

England veteran back row James Haskell is set to be on the bench once again as he makes his way back to full fitness following a toe injury.

"We've got a few options. Whichever back row we go for in the end will be competitive and we think will be the right 23 for Wales," Gustard said.

"Obviously Tom's got a lot of caps, but I think it's important, as we've said from February 2016, that week by week we'll pick the best 23 for the next game.

"We said last week about Maro, the number on your back puts you in a certain position at the set piece.

"After that you're a rugby player and for anyone in the back five of the scrum that means tackling, cleaning out and for some of them to carry.

"Jack can do all those things whether he's got a six, seven or eight on his back."

Agence France-Presse

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FIXTURE GMT VENUE
Fri, 24 November 2017
Ulster v Treviso 19h05 Kingspan Stadium
Leinster v Dragons 19h35 RDS Stadium
Cardiff Blues v Connacht 19h35 Cardiff Arms Park
Newcastle Falcons v Gloucester 19h45 Kingston Park
Sat, 25 November 2017
Leicester Tigers v Worcester Warriors 12h45 Welford Road
Bath v Harlequins 12h45 Recreation Ground
Italy v South Africa 13h00 Rome
Scotland v Australia 14h30 Edinburgh
England v Samoa 15h00 Twickenham
Wales v New Zealand 17h15 Cardiff
Sale Sharks v Northampton Saints 17h30 AJ Bell Stadium
Ireland v Argentina 17h30 Aviva Stadium
France v Japan 19h00 Paris
Sun, 26 November 2017
Ospreys v Glasgow Warriors 13h00 Liberty Stadium
Kings v Scarlets 13h00 Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium
Zebre v Munster 13h30 Stadio Sergio Lanfranchi
Saracens v Exeter Chiefs 15h00 Allianz Park
London Irish v Wasps 15h00 Madejski Stadium
Fri, 01 December 2017
Kings v Edinburgh 17h15 Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium
RESULT SCORE
Fri, 24 November 2017
Cheetahs v Edinburgh 33 | 13
Sun, 19 November 2017
Exeter Chiefs v Harlequins 31 | 17
Leicester Tigers v Sale Sharks 35 | 27
London Irish v Bath 18 | 22
Sat, 18 November 2017
France v South Africa 17 | 18
Scotland v New Zealand 17 | 22
Ireland v Fiji 23 | 20
Wasps v Newcastle Falcons 40 | 10
England v Australia 30 | 6
Wales v Georgia 13 | 6
Italy v Argentina 15 | 31
Worcester Warriors v Northampton Saints 30 | 15
Fri, 17 November 2017
Gloucester v Saracens 23 | 17
Tue, 14 November 2017
France XV v New Zealand 23 | 28
Sat, 11 November 2017
France v New Zealand 18 | 38
SIX NATIONS
MORE LOGS
Team P W D L Pts
England 0 0 0 0 0
Ireland 0 0 0 0 0
France 0 0 0 0 0
Scotland 0 0 0 0 0
Wales 0 0 0 0 0
Italy 0 0 0 0 0