ENGLAND captain Mike Tindall has hailed Tom Wood as the heir to World Cup-winner Richard Hill after the flanker enjoyed a dominant debut in Friday’s 26-19 victory over Wales.
Wood, 24, was not included in the initial 33-man squad for the RBS 6 Nations but was thrust straight into the starting XV for a full-blooded opening fixture in Cardiff after a spate of injuries to the forwards.
The Northampton Saints star, who can play on either flank, rose to the occasion on Friday night and outshone more experienced colleagues, prompting Tindall to compare him to former British and Irish Lion Hill.
“I thought he was outstanding. Everywhere I seemed to look there he was. You talk about players putting their hand up and taking chances when they come along – well he took a massive step against Wales,” said Tindall, who skippered the side for the first time in the absence of the injured Lewis Moody.
“I think he is definitely in that Richard Hill mould. Richard went under the radar. You have to look at film to see how good he was but I thought Tom was outstanding today – he was everywhere.”
Wood’s assured international bow will boost his chances of holding onto his place in the side for Saturday, when Italy visit Twickenham.
Hendre Fourie could be fit enough to rival him for selection, but will have to convince Martin Johnson to drop a player who impressed the England management.
“Tom walked out to the bright lights, the male voice choir, the band and the goat,” said Johnson.
“They pushed us off our side of the field. But when you have got the ball, you have to be accurate and that is what he did every time. That is his little part of a big thing that means winning the game.”