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Six Nations: Tindall leads England as Wood handed debut

2011 Six Nations Championship - Wales v England
Venue: Millennium Stadium Date: Friday, 4 February Kick-off: 1945 GMT
Coverage: Watch live on BBC One from 1930 (BBC Wales and Red Button from 1900); listen on BBC Radio 5 live and BBC Radio Wales; live text commentary on BBC Sport website and mobiles

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England must enjoy pressure - Johnson

Northampton flanker Tom Wood will make his England debut in Friday night's Six Nations opener with Wales in Cardiff.

England will be led by Mike Tindall in place of the injured Lewis Moody.

England make two further changes because of injury, with Louis Deacon coming into the second row and James Haskell picked in the back row.

Haskell, normally a blind-side flanker, replaces Moody on the open-side, while Wood comes in for Tom Croft and Deacon replaces Courtney Lawes.

Other changes on the bench see Jonny Wilkinson, who missed the autumn Tests through injury, return in place of Charlie Hodgson and Joe Worsley take over from Hendre Fourie as back-row cover.

TOM FORDYCE'S BLOG

England boss Martin Johnson revealed Wood was told he was playing at the squad's training camp in Portugal last week and that one of his back-row rivals, Fourie, was not considered because he was only able to resume training this week.

"It's not great to have guys injured but this is a chance for Tom that maybe he wouldn't have got that if the other guys were fit," said Johnson.

"But he's certainly worth a go and worth his place in the team. He was very impressive when he came in during the autumn and in what he does every week with his club.

"Sometimes a young player comes in and they don't realise how good a player they are. We certainly rate Tom as a very good player, and to keep out Joe Worsley and Phil Dowson, who is also playing very well, is something in itself.

"He has worked impressively in training - he is always 'at it'. He has spoken well when he has had to, and his understanding and knowledge of the game is very good.

606: DEBATE
John

"We've got good carrying ability in the back five with James Haskell also coming in - he offers something different to Lewis. All the back-row guys are slightly different and I think we've got a good combination."

Wood's inclusion means that over a third of England's starting line-up will get their first experience of playing a Test in Cardiff, with Ben Foden, Chris Ashton, Shontayne Hape, Ben Youngs and Dan Cole also new to the Millennium Stadium Test experience.

It will also be scrum-half Youngs' first start in the Six Nations and Hape's first appearance in the tournament.

England are always assured of a fiery reception when they face Wales in Cardiff with 130 years of history between the two nations, both on and off the field.

But Johnson said the decision to hand the captaincy to the experienced Tindall was not influenced by the bear-pit atmosphere expected at the world-renowned Millennium Stadium.

"Mike would have captained wherever we played, home or away. Nick Easter will have a big job leading the forwards, giving us a lot of direction there," said the England boss.

"Mike's a good captain, he's hugely experienced and if he's not there we've got Nick, and Louis Deacon has had a really good week as well. It is good to have him back fit and firing."

Wood can do the lot - Mallinder

Debutant Wood, 24, was not in the original squad but was promoted from the Saxons and offers a line-out option in the absence of Croft.

The flanker is in his first year with Heineken Cup quarter-finalists Northampton after three seasons at Worcester.

He was born in Coventry and played for the Barkers' Butts club, which lists Danny Grewcock and Neil Back among its international alumni.

Wood graduated through the Worcester academy and overcame a broken leg with a successful spell in New Zealand before forcing his way into the Warriors first team in the 2007-08 season.

The athletic 6ft 5in, 16st 7lb flanker broke into the Saxons squad this time last year and, after making an immediate impression at Franklin's Gardens, has now earned a Test debut.

"I was in the middle of a gym session in Portugal when Martin told me," he told BBC Sport. "I wasn't expecting the news at that stage, I had to pinch myself.

"But you need to acclimatise really quickly. For a moment you could be star-struck with World Cup winners and British Lions in the team, and when you stand back and look at it, it is a massive deal.

"But then you get your head down and work because you are a part of that team now and they are relying on you to do that job."


England: B Foden (Northampton Saints); C Ashton (Northampton Saints), M Tindall (Gloucester, capt), S Hape (Bath), M Cueto (Sale Sharks); T Flood (Leicester Tigers), B Youngs (Leicester Tigers); A Sheridan (Sale Sharks), D Hartley (Northampton Saints), D Cole (Leicester Tigers), L Deacon (Leicester Tigers), T Palmer (Stade Francais), T Wood (Northampton Saints), J Haskell (Stade Francais), N Easter (Harlequins).
Replacements: S Thompson (Leeds Carnegie), D Wilson (Bath), S Shaw (Wasps), J Worsley (Wasps), D Care (Harlequins), J Wilkinson (Toulon), M Banahan (Bath).



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see also
Wales pick Hook in full-back role
02 Feb 11 |  Welsh
England primed for hot reception
31 Jan 11 |  English
England 11-21 South Africa
27 Nov 10 |  Rugby Union


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