Aviva Premiership
'Jealousy' fires resurgent Wood
ESPN Staff
September 21, 2012
Northampton flanker Tom Wood surveys the action, Gloucester v Northampton, Aviva Premiership, Kingsholm, Gloucester, England, September 1, 2012
Northampton flanker Tom Wood is desperate to make up for lost time © Getty Images
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England flanker Tom Wood has revealed that 'jealousy' was a major factor in his battle to shake off a chronic foot injury.

The 25-year-old looked poised to assume the England captaincy earlier this year and spearhead the Stuart Lancaster era only for injury to strike at the heart of his international and club aspirations. Forced to watch from the sidelines as England found their feet under a new coach and Quins rival Chris Robshaw shone in the role of skipper, Wood suffered some dark days.

After exhaustive assessments and advice, and a false start back in March, Wood has now found a way to manage his injury and is determined to make up for lost time. "It was infuriating, not with Chris [Robshaw], but that I was being deprived of what I do: play rugby. It's my job, my hobby, my life really," Wood told the Daily Telegraph.

"I was gutted. And confused," added Wood, who has started all of Saints' three Premiership games this season. "There just wasn't much clarity there with the injury. It was so tough. And of course you were jealous of others. There was this new, young England set-up and all this exciting stuff going on. I'd come back from the World Cup, where I didn't have the impact I wanted, desperate to prove a point. I felt good around Christmas, and then the wheels fell off."

Understandably the frustration and the lack of clarity regarding the nature of the injury took its toll. "I had to let off steam somehow," said Wood. "The rowing machine, the punchbag, the dumbbells in a darkened room, just working up a sweat. Weird? Not really. You're never happier as a rugby player than having that Sunday morning feeling when you've been kicked to bits the day before, bruised, eyebrows blooded, that sort of stuff, you've won and you've played OK.

"There were a few times I lost it, blew up with frustration. You know, the worst thing was that, at certain times, I was almost fit. I wanted to get out there, do the right thing, front up and help the boys, but I wasn't allowed. I felt like sneaking off somewhere and having a few crafty random mauls round the back of the bike-sheds like a smoker. In the end, it got to me, you did wonder where it would all end, wonder if your career was over?"

Wood remains very much part of England's plans with Lancaster retaining his services in his latest elite player squad despite the doubts about his fitness and looks likely to feature during the end of year campaign.

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