By Alan Dymock
This week Tom Wood threw his hat into the ring for the England captaincy during the autumn Tests after rumours began to circulate that the job was already his.
As the last man to captain England, leading them to victory in South America during the summer, he is the front-runner for the armband that he was famously earmarked for before injury opened the door for Chris Robshaw.
Talking to the Telegraph about his prospects, Wood said: “I am ambitious and of course I would love to captain England again. Stuart [Lancaster] told me at the end of the tour that I had credit in the bank in terms of captaincy as well as a player. But form and fitness will shape everything.”
Depending on who you talk to, everything appears to be set in stone on this front with the Northampton Saints breakaway leading the charge, but if this is true it will be interesting to see if Robshaw is considered a starter in the Tests. He has experience and is a leader within the team structure, but there is a growing hum of support for Matt Kvesic at openside, despite Gloucester losing their first two matches in the Aviva Premiership. Of course, with Tom Croft out for the season with knee problems there is less of a headache for Lancaster, but the problem of whether to use Robshaw as a six or a seven, Billy Vunipola as an eight or a six and Tom Wood as a six or an eight is still hard to circumnavigate.
If Lancaster gets it wrong or experiments, everyone will have time to scrutinise him because England play Australia a few weeks before any of the other sides start their campaigns.
Aside from all of this, though, Wood clearly knows the size of his task should he take up the mantle again.
“You are the face of English rugby. Your body language has to be spot on, you have to field tough questions and cope with all the stuff that goes with the job. As long as you are straight with yourself and your team-mates, I don’t see a problem with that. Captaincy is a way of life, you have to set an example in everything you do. That is good leadership.”
Despite not being captain at Saints or the only option at all for Lancaster, Tom Wood is making all the right noises. Now he just has to stay fit to keep things interesting.Like Rugby World? Subscribe to the magazine for the latest comprehensive content.