ENGLAND boss Martin Johnson has urged Tom Wood to grab his opportunity with both hands after giving the Northampton flanker a Test debut in Friday’s RBS 6 Nations opener against France.
Wood – left out of the initial 33-man squad for the championship – has been fast-tracked into the starting line-up at blindside in place of Tom Croft after a raft of injuries to the pack.
And Johnson said: “It’s not great to have guys injured but this is a chance for Tom that maybe he wouldn’t have got if the other guys were fit. 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.”
James Haskell has been drafted into an unfamiliar openside role in place of injured captain Lewis Moody, with centre Mike Tindall taking over as skipper for the first time. Second-row Louis Deacon replaces the injured Courtney Lawes.
Wales have named James Hook at full-back, so Lee Byrne starts on the bench.