Tom Wood says he is determined to make the most of his surprise England recall
The back-rower was an integral player under former head coach Stuart Lancaster
After an injury epidemic, Wood returns to the squad for the four autumn Tests
Tom Wood wants to use his England lifeline to ensure his international career doesn’t end with last year’s disastrous World Cup campaign.
The last time Wood played for England was a year ago when England faced Uruguay in their final match of the World Cup, by which point they had already been eliminated from the tournament.
The 29-year-old loose forward, who turns 30 on Thursday, was a regular under former coach Stuart Lancaster but was not picked again following the World Cup with Eddie Jones describing him as average.
But injuries to the likes of James Haskell (toe), Sam Jones (broken leg) and Maro Itoje (hand) have now given the Saints man a second chance prove his worth when England face South Africa at Twickenham on November 12.
“I always had it in the back of mind that I wanted to be back here at some point,” Wood told the Press Association at the squad’s training camp on the Algarve.
“I knew it may take an injury or 10 to get me here, but that’s the nature of the game. If and when I eventually finish with England, it would be nice to finish on a high. It (the World Cup) was an incredibly disappointing moment in time but, as a professional rugby player, I don’t dwell on it from day to day.
“I played for Northampton the following week. I’ve got a full season under my belt since then and you move on. I’ll always wish that things had been different at that World Cup and that we were more successful, but that’s true of every game I lose.”
Wood has an outside chance of starting at openside against the Springboks, although it was uncapped Nathan Hughes who trained alongside flanker Chris Robshaw and big number 8 Billy Vunipola during Tuesday’s training session in Vilamoura.
Wood said although he hasn’t featured under Jones, he hasn’t been left out in the cold completely.
“Eddie has been in fairly regular contact, giving me a few pointers and touching base now and again to let me know the door has never been closed, so that has been good for me morale-wise to keep pushing,” Wood said.
“I was always pretty philosophical about the whole thing. I never got too worked up about it. I didn’t throw my toys out of the pram. The reality was that I wasn’t picked because what he had seen from me hadn’t been good enough at that stage.
“The fact that he did touch base to let me know he was watching gave me that bit of encouragement that I wasn’t too far away and that if a couple of injuries cropped up – which they inevitably do in the back row – then I was ready and waiting.
“The door is ajar for me now. I’ve got one foot through it but now I have to show what I am about in training. Sometimes you get a better feel for a person once you are in a camp like this and you are training and preparing. Hopefully I can put my best foot forward and do myself justice and we’ll see where it goes from there.”