England will go into the RBS Six Nations without one of the players who people have regarded not just as a possible captain, but one of the first names on the team sheet. Tom Wood had been in a race against time to be fit for England’s first match of this year’s RBS Six Nations championship against Scotland, but after a scan on Monday, the true extent of his time on the sidelines has been revealed.
Speaking to The Rugby Blog, Wood revealed that he has sesamoiditis in his left foot, a gradual pain that has developed in the ball of the foot where the sesamoid links to the big toe. As a result, he has been put in a moonboot, which he will need to wear for four weeks. To make matters worse, Wood admitted the length of time required for him to recover from the injury was “a grey area”, and that although the initial prognosis is four weeks, it could well take longer. As with many players in the top flight, Wood first felt the niggle in training ahead of a Heineken Cup clash with Castres, managing to train through the rest of the week and play a couple of matches until it needed to be addressed. “I changed direction suddenly and something just didn’t feel right.”
The devastation at the news was clear in Wood’s voice as he spoke about the moment the damage was revealed on Monday. “When the consultant told me the news I was heartbroken. Since the initial injury I’ve been set on getting back in time to face Scotland at Murrayfield, so to be ruled out of the first couple of matches is devastating. There’s no actual pain whilst I’m in the boot, it just needs to be immobilised in order to recover, which is incredibly frustrating given that we’re building up to the Six Nations.”
Wood’s luck with regards to the timing of his injuries is truly dreadful. He missed out on the knockout stages of both the Aviva Premiership and Heineken Cup last season, describing watching from the stands when Northampton collapsed in Cardiff as agony. It will be a feeling that he revisits at Murrayfield and the Stadio Olimpico.
It also deprives England of one of their proposed leadership group going forward, if not their potential captain. That responsibility will now fall to either Dylan Hartley or Chris Robshaw. Looking forward, Wood stated that whilst he would not “go around touting myself for it”, it was “very flattering” to be tipped for the captaincy by former players such as Lawrence Dallaglio. The Northampton flanker though is grounded enough to know that the only people he needs to hear it from are the new management team. He has worked with Stuart Lancaster in the past, commenting that England’s preparations “will not be rocket science”, but “focusing on getting the simple things perfect.”
He also commented on the news over the last 48 hours regarding Roger Wilson & Chris Ashton leaving the club. Wood is among many Northampton players who decided to extend their contracts over the last few months, and he is set to be at the club until 2014. “It’s a matter of personal preference. I decided to stay at the club, and Chris and Roger have decided to move on. Roger has been a fantastic servant to the club, and now he’s moving back home to Ulster. Chris has been offered a great opportunity, and I hope that he goes well at Saracens, just not against us!”.
For the immediate future however, Wood’s job is to rest and get playing again. Both he and England will have the match against Wales on the 25th of February in mind for his return.
by Ben Coles
Tom Wood is supporting RBS RugbyForce, the community rugby programme that is improving club facilities across the nation. To find out more or register your rugby club for the RBS RugbyForce Weekend on 2nd and 3rd June, www.rbs.com/rugbyforce.