Six Nations Championship
Wood puts the boot into England
February 4, 2009
Wood will be working as an analyst for the BBC during this year's Six Nations © Getty Images
Former Ireland skipper Keith Wood has launched a scathing attack on England insisting that they have no star players.
Speaking on the eve of this year's Six Nations, the British & Irish Lions international believes that a shortage of world-class operators that will undermine their progress in this year's Championship.
"England have had a lot of problems and many injuries. As a team they're in a really hard place," Wood told PA Sport. "It's difficult for a new coaching team to deal with an England side that is shy of stars.
"There are a lot of good players but there are no great players. Just look at 2003 when they won the World Cup - there were so many great England players in that team. But there's a dearth of great England players at the moment and that makes life very difficult for them. It's their greatest shortcoming right now.
"Part of the problem is that in Britain and Ireland there are too many Antipodeans playing in our leagues. The club and provincial teams are getting better but the pools for the international teams are shrinking."
Wood does however believe that in World Cup-winner Martin Johnson the team have the ideal man in charge to steer England into a new era. "Martin is the right man for the job and I have huge respect for him," said Wood. "He's in a very difficult position and really needs to show all of his leadership qualities to take England out of the position they're in.
"If there isn't the leadership greatness on the field, he needs to show a lot off it to get the most out of his team. England at the moment is a tough job for Martin, but it would be a tough job for anybody. As a player Martin was the man who led England to their greatest success, you would hope he's the right man to do it as a manager as well."
Captain Steve Borthwick has borne the brunt of the criticism directed at England but Wood, capped 58 times by Ireland, believes he is operating in challenging circumstances.
"It's tough on Steve because he'd be a finer captain if he had four or five other guys who you could hang your hat on within the team," Wood said. "Martin Johnson would be the first to say that what made him an exceptional captain were his lieutenants.
"Lawrence Dallaglio, Matt Dawson, Will Greenwood, Jason Leonard and Neil Back could have led the side in his absence. Captain is important but it's also often over-rated. You need to delegate and share the responsibility."