Triple Lions tourist Lawrence Dallaglio believes Tom Wood deserves much of the credit for England’s fine form this month.
The 1997, 2001 and 2005 Lions back rower has been hugely impressed with what he’s seen from Wood so far this term as England have backed up their stunning success against the All Blacks with strong showings against Scotland and Ireland.
And while captain Chris Robshaw and fly-half Owen Farrell may have hogged most of the headlines over the past few weeks, Dallaglio believes the Northampton Saints star is just as crucial to England’s hopes of a first Grand Slam for 10 years.
“I thought Tom Wood did very well against Ireland and, while all the talk might have been on Owen Farrell and Chris Robshaw afterwards, I feel that he deserved some serious credit too,” said Dallaglio, who was speaking at the inaugural Dallaglio Foundation Rugby for Change awards at Twickenham.
“He was also one of England’s unsung heroes.
“He is quickly establishing himself as one of England’s most crucial players in the back row and his performances mean it will be difficult for those out injured to wrestle a place back off him.”
Wood has previously been employed on both the blind and openside flanks for England but started at No8 in the 12-6 win over the Irish in the absence of the injured Ben Morgan.
That versatility could work in his favour when it comes to Lions selection at the end of April and Dallaglio admits it has certainly seen his already impressive stock rise even further within the England camp.
“Tom has done tremendously well at flanker for England and that was his first start at No8 and to do it in Ireland is no easy challenge,” added Dallaglio.
“It is not easy to do that at the best of times – I know as I switched at times during my career – but to do it in Ireland, a place where we haven’t won in such a long time, is a tough ask.
“When you are not used to playing there it isn’t easy in terms of controlling the ball, the base of the scrum and everything else that comes with it.
“But Tom took everything in his stride and the fact that he almost went unnoticed is a testament to the great job he did in just getting in there and getting on with his job.
“And now he adds some versatility to his game with how comfortable he looked at No.8 and that is never a bad thing.”