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Last Updated:  Tuesday, 18 February, 2003, 23:19 GMT
Woodward pinpoints Welsh fitness
Leigh Davies
Wales suffered a humiliating defeat in Rome
England coach Clive Woodward says that a failing in fitness rather than a lack of passion cost Wales dear in their opening Six Nations match in Rome.

"I don't think they (Wales) lack passion," said Woodward, "England have had a torrid time in the first 40 minutes of our last two visits to Italy.

"The last 20 minutes is when we have run away with it in the past, but that didn't happen at the weekend.

"Their fitness was there to be seen and they finished the stronger of the teams."

We were inspired playing in that stadium
Clive Woodward
The England coach's Wales counterpart Steve Hansen dismissed the talk as mind games: "Clive's just playing a psychological trick, there's no problem with our fitness," Hansen told BBC Radio Wales' 'Midweek Sport' programme.

"If he had access to our fitness data he wouldn't say that."

Woodward made all the right noises about expecting a tough challenge in Cardiff from a Wales team on the rebound, but he must be confident that his super-fit side can play at a tempo the home team cannot live with.

"We're looking forward to it," said Woodward. "We had a great game there two years ago and were inspired playing there, inspired playing in that stadium."

The coach's views were echoed by his captain, Martin Johnson.

"Cardiff is a great place to play rugby, but we've got problems if we let Wales into the game," he said.

"They'll come out and play tough and physically, like they did at Twickenham last year.

"They are a young side, but they have a lot of talent, as we've seen in the Heineken Cup."

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