Rugby - Wood happy with support from afar

Tom Wood is ready for one final push after arriving in Buenos Aires to captain England on the tour of Uruguay and Argentina - but for his burned-out parents the season is over.

PA Sport
Rugby - Wood happy with support from afar
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Tom Wood is focused on delivering for England this summer

Wood told head coach Stuart Lancaster he wanted to start Sunday's tour match against a South American XV in Montevideo, despite still feeling bruised by last weekend's Aviva Premiership final defeat. The Northampton flanker will then lead England into the two-Test series against the Pumas, having been inspired by his father's own captaincy exploits with Midlands club Barkers Butts. But Andrew Wood and the rest of the family will be cheering from 7,000 miles away after deciding they could not travel to South America to follow their son.

"My Dad captained his side and he has always been close in terms of coaching and mentoring me. He was a big role model," Wood said.

"He gets emotional, he lives and breathes it. He was toying with the idea of coming out and he was right on the edge but my Mum reined him in. There's an awful lot of rugby in the calendar and they don't miss many games. It will probably do them good to have a break.

"I'm sure I've got three more big efforts left in me. I feel like if I am going to lead the team I need to establish myself from the start and Stuart agrees.

"We're not signing off, we're not going on holiday. We are here to play rugby. My role is to lead the charge. I just hope I can do my dad, mum and the rest of the family proud. That's all I ever intend to do."

Wood's captaincy experience may be limited at the highest level but he is a natural born leader, a trait identified by Lancaster as soon as he took charge. For the 26-year-old, leadership is about setting the right example off the field and pulling the squad together behind a common cause.

Lancaster has selected 11 uncapped players and those with experience, like Wood, have had to overcome the disappointment of not making the British and Irish Lions tour.

"In professional rugby, captaincy is more about the off-field stuff, the way you conduct yourself and have as much integrity as possible," Wood said.

"That is all I try and do whether I am captain or not. At this stage of the season, everyone has played a lot of rugby and, to some extent, there is some disappointment at missing out on the Lions. There are a lot of distractions and it's about bringing it back to the fact we are representing England. It's a huge honour, no matter what the circumstances, and it will be a huge challenge."

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