Six Nations
Tindall heaps praise on debutant Wood
ESPNscrum Staff
February 6, 2011
England flanker Tom Wood, Wales v England, Six Nations, Millennium Stadium, Cardiff, Wales, February 4, 2011
Saints flanker Tom Wood made an eye-catching debut for England on Friday night © Getty Images

England flanker Tom Wood has been compared to legendary back-row forward Richard Hill in the wake of his impressive international debut against Wales on Friday night.

The glowing tribute came from captain Mike Tindall following his side's 26-19 victory in a bruising encounter in Cardiff where Wood played a pivotal role.

The 24-year-old has impressed England boss Martin Johnson from the moment he linked up with the squad for training last autumn and at 6ft 5in and over 16stone, the athletic Northampton forward can play on either flank and offers a key lineout option.

He made a seamless transition to the international stage in the cauldron-like atmosphere of the Millennium Stadium where his industrious display drew the comparison to one of the greatest flankers to have worn an England shirt. The quietly effective Hill won 76 Test caps, including five for the Lions, played in all three back row positions for England and was an integral member of the triumphant 2003 World Cup team.

"I thought he was outstanding," said Tindall, who was captaining England for the first time. "Everywhere I seemed to look there he was. You talk about players putting their hand up and taking chances when they come along - well he took a massive step against Wales.

"I think he is definitely in that Richard Hill mould. Richard went under the radar. You have to look at film to see how good he was but I thought Tom was outstanding today - he was everywhere."

Wales No.8 Andy Powell had warned Wood to be prepared for the biggest challenge of his rugby life but he was not fazed by the size of the occasion. In the end, Powell failed to last until the interval but Wood was still going at the end, carrying and tackling for England as they closed out their first victory in the Welsh capital since 2003.

"Matches are made up of all the little incidents, the little fundamentals that go on to make the big picture. You have to do them. When guys make their debut that is what I really say to them," said England manager Martin Johnson. "Tom walked out to the bright lights, the male voice choir, the band and the goat. They pushed us off our side of the field.

"But when you have got the ball, you have to be accurate and that is what he did. Every time he got the ball he was accurate and that is his little part of a big thing that means winning the game."

England could have Hendre Fourie available for Saturday's clash with Italy at Twickenham - but Wood hopes he has done enough to retain his place and make his home debut. "The lads have all given me some positive feedback and a few pats on the back. I was just trying as hard as I could," Wood said. "You have got to have confidence in yourself at this level. If you don't you will be in trouble."

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